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LVMH to buy Tiffany for $16bn in biggest luxury goods deal

The French company agrees to pay $135 a share for the US jewellery brand

A man walks by a Tiffany & Co shop on the Champs Elysees in Paris. French luxury group LVMH is buying the chain in its biggest-ever acquisition. EPA
A man walks by a Tiffany & Co shop on the Champs Elysees in Paris. French luxury group LVMH is buying the chain in its biggest-ever acquisition. EPA

LVMH agreed to buy Tiffany & Co for more than $16.2 billion (Dh59.5bn) in the largest luxury-goods deal, raising the French conglomerate’s profile in jewellery and giving it access to a broader swathw of shoppers in the US and Asia.

The owner of the Louis Vuitton brand agreed to pay $135 a share for the US jeweller on Monday. That values Tiffany 37 per cent above the closing price before the initial approach was reported last month. Boards of both companies approved the proposal on Sunday, capping a month of talks.

LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault is challenging Cartier owner Richemont for dominance in the global jewellery business. While LVMH’s stable of 75 brands includes Christian Dior fashion and Dom Perignon Champagne, the company has not been as prominent in jewellery as in fashion or cosmetics. Acquiring Tiffany would more than double LVMH’s jewellery scale and boost its market share to more than 18 per cent, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Deborah Aitken.

“Tiffany makes sense for LVMH because of the scarcity of acquisition targets with global scale and brand appeal in jewellery, the least-crowded category in the luxury sector,” wrote Rogerio Fujimori, an analyst at RBC Europe.

The all-cash deal is expected to close in the middle of 2020. LVMH shares rose as much as 2 per cent in morning trading in Paris, approaching a record.

Tiffany’s shares rose 6 per cent in pre-market trading in New York. They have traded steadily above the initial offer price since the talks were first reported late last month.

The deal cements a successful streak for Mr Arnault’s company, which is worth about €200bn (Dh16.2bn) after its stock price quadrupled during the past eight years. To fuel growth, Europe’s richest person has embraced acquisitions, spending more than $12bn across 19 deals since the start of 2016, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

Yet even with that spree, LVMH has lagged behind Richemont in luxury jewellery, a significant area of growth in emerging markets such as China. LVMH’s last major deal in that area was in 2011, when it acquired the Bulgari brand.

LVMH raised its bid for Tiffany at least twice before coming to an accord, bolstering its offer to $130 from $120 just days ago. While the company dwarfs Tiffany with sales of about $50bn, some analysts had predicted LVMH might need to pay even more, with price targets of $140 at Credit Suisse and $160 at Cowen.

The revised price tag may reflect the changing fortunes of Tiffany, where chief executive Alessandro Bogliolo has cut back on entry-priced gifting options and revamped its marketing to target younger shoppers after a difficult period when the firm lost track of consumer trends.

Offerings from the 182-year-old brand include $165 heart-shaped earrings, as well as top-end options like a $165,000 diamond chain. The company gets about 44 per cent of its revenue from the Americas and 43 per cent from Asia. The rest comes mostly from Europe.

Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase gave LVMH financial advice, while Tiffany hired Goldman Sachs Group. LVMH’s legal counsel was Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, while Tiffany’s was Sullivan & Cromwell.

Updated: November 25, 2019 08:48 PM

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