Founding family members of luxury goods maker Hermes International SCA have been given permission to group more than 50% of their shares in the firm into a separate holding company, in a move intended to protect the firm from a hostile takeover from rival luxury goods group LVMH.

The decision by French stock market watchdog Autorite des Marches Financiers (AMF) exempts them from having to launch a bid for the entire company, which is usually the case when shareholders have a stake of more than 33%.

The new holding company will now have first right of refusal on the remaining shares held directly by the family.

Members of the Hermès family said the decision reflects "the family's unanimous desire to protect the Hermès culture."

The action comes after LVMH, which owns Louis Vuitton, Céline, Fendi, Donna Karan and Marc Jacobs, acquired a 20.2% stake in Hermes at the end of last year. However, it denies seeking a board seat or control.

The company used derivatives called equity swaps so that it wouldn't have to make a declaration when it crossed certain thresholds. But the AMF is still examining whether LVMH violated market rules by buying the shares this way.