Bernard Arnault acquires stake in luxury rival Richemont

French billionaire Bernard Arnault, Europe’s richest man and the chairman of high fashion to champagne group LVMH, opens new tab, has bought a stake in smaller luxury rival Richemont (CFR.S), opens new tab, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday. The exact size of the shareholding in the owner of Cartier jewellery and Arnault’s intentions are unclear, the report said. Representatives of Arnault did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Arnault’s shareholding in Richemont may still trigger questions around his intentions for the investment. Richemont has a strong defense against unwanted suitors because its chairman, Rupert, controls 51% of the voting rights despite owning only 10.2% of the capital. Over the past few years, Rupert, who is 74, has emphasized his desire to keep the group independent. As of March 31, there were no other significant shareholders in Richemont holding at least 3% of the voting rights, the Switzerland-based company said in its latest annual report.

The report said the investment was small and part of a broader Arnault family-owned portfolio of investments in publicly listed companies. Richemont, whose shares rose 2.8% after the news, declined to comment. The company’s stock has gained 21% this year. Paris-based LVMH whose brands include Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior fashion houses, watchmakers Hublot and Tag Heuer, and champagne maker Dom Perignon, has previously bought stakes in rivals.

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