Published On: Fri, Dec 8th, 2023

Hermès’ $151 Billion Family Fortune Is Europe’s Biggest

Hermès’ 1 Billion Family Fortune Is Europe’s Biggest
Hermès’ 1 Billion Family Fortune Is Europe’s Biggest


On a chilly October day in Paris in 2010, Bertrand Puech got an unexpected call on his cellphone from Bernard Arnault, the founder of luxury giant LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE and one of the world’s richest men. Arnault told Puech, the family patriarch at rival Hermès, that his company had amassed shares in the maker of the iconic Kelly and Birkin bags. The investment was friendly and aimed at offering Hermès strategic and operational help, Arnault would later say.

But to Puech and other Hermès heirs, his objective was clear: Arnault, whose often-ruthless takeovers of storied heritage brands have earned him the moniker “wolf in cashmere,” was out to conquer. For the fifth and sixth-generation Hermès owners, ceding their empire to a competitor would have been bad enough, but losing it to what they saw as Arnault’s flashy, marketing-driven group was “revolting,” Patrick Thomas, who was Hermès’ executive chairman, said at the time. Against formidable odds, the heirs repulsed Arnault’s advances, handing one of France’s most acquisitive businessmen a stunning defeat and preventing Hermès from becoming just another label in LVMH’s stable of about 75 brands that includes Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior.


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