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Visiting France

Hermès accuses LVMH of stockmarket fraud of century

media It's not in the bag for LVMH - a Hermès product as seen by Elle magazine Getty Images/Mat Szwajkos

In a clash of French luxury brand titans, Hermès is taking LVMH to a Paris tribunal, accusing it of "the biggest fraud in French stockmarket history". The leather-goods leader believes that luxury market kingpin LVMH has been secretly infiltrating its capital with the help of three French banks.

Using complicated financial mechanisms, LVMH managed to buy up 17 per cent of Hermès's capital without notifying the stockmarket authorities, going on to accumulate 22.6 per cent, French business paper Les Echos, itself owned by LVMH, reports.

Hermès claims that the purchases were part of a plan, citing the fact that LVMH subscribed to equity swaps linked to shares rather than cash, as is usual, the paper says without naming its sources.

Three banks, Société Générale, Natixis and Crédit Agricole, sold LVMH the shares and Hermès is demaning that they be returned and that the banks place them on the market again.

Hermès has taken the case to the Paris commerce tribunal, where LVMH could be fined 10 million euros.

LVMH has hit back, accusing Hermès, which took it to court for insider trading in 2012 and launched an unsuccessful civil action in 2011, of a "strategy of denigration".

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