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FAMILY VALUES: A crack may be appearing in the united front that Hermès has been trumpeting since LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton revealed it had taken a stake in the luxury firm. Nicolas Puech, the brother of Bertrand Puech — the executive chairman of Emile Hermès Sarl, which represents the family shareholders — told a French newspaper he thought it was not a good idea to lock up all the family’s shares in a nonlisted holding group in order to protect the firm from a takeover bid by LVMH chief Bernard Arnault.
“I told my family that locking up our shares in a holding would have the major drawback of depriving the family shareholders of their individual power to control management,” Nicolas Puech told the weekly Le Journal du Dimanche (JDD). He nonetheless added that his relations with his brother, who has repeatedly called for Arnault to withdraw or reduce his stake, remained positive. “But in a family, you can’t agree on everything. I am very attached to my family and above all I want it to remain united,” Nicolas Puech said.
Hermès chief executive officer Patrick Thomas told a news conference recently that one family member who owned roughly 10 percent of the capital had not brought his shares to the holding for tax reasons, but that he was united with the family. That family member was presumably Nicolas Puech, whom the newspaper described as a tax exile owning between 6 and 10 percent of the Hermès capital. Nicolas Puech, 68, said he thought other family members agreed with him. “I have close relationships with many of my cousins,” he said, in a comment likely to be interpreted as a sign that Arnault could yet win over members of the Hermès clan, who are divided into three family branches: Puech, Dumas and Guerrand. Officials at Hermès were not immediately available to comment on the report.