PARIS — The engagement between Tiffany and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton seems to be off.
The French luxury giant said it likely won’t be able to complete its planned $16.2 billion acquisition of the American jeweler after France’s Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs asked LVMH to defer the transaction beyond Jan. 6, 2021. The request was made in the wake of a U.S. threat to slap taxes on a range of French products.
LVMH noted that its original acquisition agreement called for a deadline of Nov. 24 to complete the transaction.
“As it stands, the LVMH Group would therefore not be able to complete the transaction to acquire Tiffany & Co.,” the French conglomerate said in a brief statement on Wednesday.
It also said LVMH’s board of directors recently met “after a succession of events likely to weaken the transaction to acquire Tiffany & Co.”
The board also took note of Tiffany’s request to extend the deadline for completing the agreement to Dec. 31. Tiffany officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
WWD broke the news on June 1 that the blockbuster deal was looking a lot less certain, citing details of a board meeting specifically to discuss the matter amid a deteriorating situation in the U.S. market, Tiffany’s largest.
Board members of the luxury giant expressed concern at the time about the impact of not only the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed more than 180,000 lives in America and wreaked widespread economic damage, but also the growing social unrest over racial injustice. There were also question marks about debt covenants, sources told WWD.
The Tiffany deal, secured before the world was upended by COVID-19, was seen as giving LVMH a tighter grip on the lucrative high-end jewelry segment.
Combining the financial firepower of the world’s largest luxury group with the iconic American house — known globally for its robin’s egg-colored packaging and classic engagement ring settings — was seen as creating a more robust competitor to the leading jewelry label Cartier, which belongs to Compagnie Financière Richemont.
Separately, Tiffany is said to be filing a lawsuit with the Delaware Court of Chancery seeking to force LVMH to close the transaction by the Nov. 24 deadline, The Financial Times reported, citing sources.