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Tiffany Deal Is a Signature Move by the Sun Tzu of Luxury

In 2001, LVMH quietly bought an initial stake of 4.9 percent through subsidiaries, and continued to accumulate shares by buying equity derivatives through financial intermediaries, always in holdings below 5 percent. In October 2010, LVMH announced that it had acquired 14.2 percent of its rival. By December 2011, that had risen to 22.6 percent, prompting Patrick Thomas, then the Hermès chief executive, to react with a notoriously crude statement.“If you want to seduce a beautiful woman, you don’t start by raping her from behind,” he said at a news conference, where he called on Mr. Arnault to reduce the LVMH holding to 10 percent in order to show that he was not intending a takeover attempt. Mr. Arnault did not, and in 2013 the LVMH stake in Hermès grew to 23.1 percent.There was eventua...

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