Business

LVMH snags $400 million discount on Tiffany deal after legal spat

Posted October 29, 2020 4:54 a.m. EDT
Updated October 29, 2020 6:57 a.m. EDT

— Tiffany and LVMH are getting back together.

The New York jeweler has agreed to accept a lower purchase price from the French conglomerate, ending a dramatic spat that had threatened to derail the $16 billion takeover.

The companies said in a joint statement on Thursday that they have modified the terms of last year's merger agreement, lowering the price per share that LVMH will pay from $135 to $131.50. The move now values Tiffany at $15.8 billion, $400 million less than the $16.2 billion originally agreed upon. It also ends a legal battle over the deal.

LVMH announced in September that it would abandon its planned acquisition of Tiffany, which was expected to be the biggest luxury goods deal in history. LVMH said that a trade fight between Brussels and Washington had forced it to scrap the agreement, but some analysts believed that the move was a bid to renegotiate the sale.

Tiffany argued that the decision had no legal grounds. It sued LVMH in a Delaware court, saying that the French group had breached its obligations and should go ahead with the merger.

Weeks later, LVMH countersued, arguing that the coronavirus pandemic had seriously damaged the US jeweler's business and carried "devastating and lasting" effects.

The deal is expected to help LVMH better compete with rival Swiss jewelry seller Richemont by cementing its position in watches and jewelry. Until now, that had been LVMH's "weakest division" by some metrics, according to Luca Solca, a senior research analyst of luxury goods at Bernstein. It also would help the company boost its presence in the United States.

Bernard Arnault, LVMH's billionaire CEO, characterized the new agreement as "balanced," and said it "allows LVMH to work on the Tiffany acquisition with confidence."

"We are as convinced as ever of the formidable potential of the Tiffany brand and believe that LVMH is the right home for Tiffany and its employees," he added.

The deal, which must be approved by Tiffany shareholders, is expected to close early next year.

"We are very pleased to have reached an agreement with LVMH at an attractive price and to now be able to proceed with the merger," said Roger Farah, the chairman of Tiffany, in the statement Thursday. "The board concluded it was in the best interests of all of our stakeholders to achieve certainty of closing."

Solca said the news sends a "very good message for the sector — it reassures [people of] the confidence the big groups have on the business."

"The LVMH and Tiffany saga seems to have finally come to an end," he added.

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