LVMH hits at Tif­fany for fast-track re­quest

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By Han­nah Ut­t­ley

LVMH has hit back at “fever­ish and hasty” at­tempts by Tif­fany to fast-track le­gal pro­ceed­ings over its $16bn (£12bn) merger, urg­ing a US court to re­ject the lux­ury jew­eller’s re­quest.

Tif­fany filed a law­suit against LVMH ear­lier this month af­ter the French owner of brands in­clud­ing Louis Vuit­ton and Dior aban­doned its takeover of the US group.

LVMH, con­trolled by Europe’s rich­est man Bernard Ar­nault, said it was walk­ing away fol­low­ing pres­sure from the French gov­ern­ment amid a threat of US tar­iffs be­ing im­posed on the coun­try’s im­ports.

It also claimed that the im­pact of the pan­demic and vi­o­lent protests across Amer­ica had changed the sit­u­a­tion.

Tif­fany has asked a court in Delaware, where the case has been filed, to ex­pe­dite pro­ceed­ings, as it races to push the deal through be­fore its dead­line of Nov 24.

LVMH hit back at the re­quest, ar­gu­ing there was no need to fast-track the case. “There are no ob­jec­tive rea­sons why the up­com­ing trial should not take place within a rea­son­able time frame,” it said.

“By ask­ing the courts to rule ur­gently – and by com­mu­ni­cat­ing fever­ishly and hastily – Tif­fany’s ex­ec­u­tives are clearly seek­ing to avoid hav­ing to an­swer, notably to their share­hold­ers, for their bad re­sults and mis­man­age­ment, and to see their ar­gu­ments fall one af­ter the other.”

LVMH re­vealed plans to buy Tif­fany in Novem­ber last year, a deal which would have been the largest at­tempted by 70-year-old Mr Ar­nault and given his com­pany a sig­nif­i­cant foothold in the US lux­ury market.

The pro­posed takeover raised eye­brows among crit­ics, who ques­tioned whether LVMH was pay­ing too much for Tif­fany, par­tic­u­larly as the coro­n­avirus

cri­sis be­gan to hammer de­mand for lux­ury goods.

LVMH has claimed that the “ma­te­rial ad­verse ef­fects” of the cri­sis are grounds for pulling out of the deal.

It at­tacked fore­casts by Tif­fany’s man­age­ment that its fourth-quar­ter prof­its this year would come in higher than the same pe­riod a year ear­lier, call­ing the pre­dic­tions “purely fan­ci­ful, even wor­ry­ing”.

It added that the jew­eller’s fi­nan­cial re­sults would con­firm the “medi­ocrity of man­age­ment” dur­ing the cri­sis, ac­cus­ing them of load­ing the com­pany with debt.

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