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Hermès raises prospect of delisting as it announces record profits

The chief executive of luxury goods group Hermès International has hinted that the company may delist, as it reported a 46% surge in net profits in 2010 and delivered its biggest operating margin since going public in 1993.

Speaking at the group’s full-year results this morning, chief executive Patrick Thomas said: “I will not hide from you that personally I think delisting would make sense for Hermès.”

He explained that Hermès may delist if it considered that share liquidity was no longer sufficient because of the 20.2% share owned by luxury group LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton. Its free float currently amounts to less than 10%.

But he added: “We have not discussed this option amongst ourselves. Rest assured, this is not an announcement. I am simply thinking out loud.”

The luxury bag and scarf specialist reported this morning that net income for the full 2010 calendar year rose to €421.7m (£361.8m), up from €288.8m (£247.8m) in 2009.

Hermès said it would propose a dividend payout of €1.50, (£1.29), at its next meeting of shareholders in May. The interim dividend of €1 (£0.86), paid on February 10 will be deducted from that sum.

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