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Tiffany & Co to sue after LVMH says it cannot proceed with takeover
09 September 2020

Luxury goods giant LVMH says it cannot proceed with its takeover deal of luxury jewellery retailer Tiffany & Co because the French government had requested a delay to the agreement due to the threat of proposed US tariffs on French goods.

The Paris-based conglomerate said that both the French government and Tiffany had requested that the closing of the deal be postponed. The French government, it said, wanted to assess the impact of the possible US tariffs on French goods.

As a result, LVMH said, the $14.5 billion (£11.2 billion) deal that was scheduled to close on November 24 will not go ahead.

Tiffany replied that it had filed a lawsuit in Delaware to enforce the merger agreement, which was signed in November 2019. The New York company said LVMH’s argument has no basis in French law. Tiffany also said that LVMH has not even attempted to seek antitrust approval from three jurisdictions.

"The lawsuit not only makes clear that LVMH is in breach of its obligations relating to obtaining antitrust clearance, but also refutes LVMH's suggestions that it can avoid completing the acquisition by claiming Tiffany has undergone a Material Adverse Effect ("MAE") or breached its obligations under the Merger Agreement, or that the transaction is in some way inconsistent with its patriotic duties as a French corporation,"

LVMH had initially hope the deal would help it to secure a greater foothold in the US market  and broaden its offer in luxury jewellery space. However Tiffany has been hit hard by the coronavirus crisis and LVMH has been attempting to compel the Tiffany board to renegotiate the terms of the $135-per-share deal in recent months.

Last year France sought to impose a tax on global tech giants including Google, Amazon and Facebook. The French tech tax is aimed at “establishing tax justice”. France wants digital companies to pay their fair share of taxes in countries where they make money instead of using tax havens, and is pushing for an international agreement on the issue.

In response to the tech tax, the US threatened to slap 100% tariffs on $2.4 billion(£1.8 billion) of French products.

The two sides are at a tense truce as France has said it would delay collection of the digital tax until December, parking the issue until after the next US presidential election where Donald Trump hopes to secure another four-year term.

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