Tiffany Ordered To Pay Swatch Group US$449 Million For Failed Joint Venture

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A Dutch arbitration panel has just awarded the Swatch Group 402 million francs (US$449 million) in its dispute with Tiffany & Co., stemming from the dissolution of their watchmaking joint venture. That amount is larger than Tiffany’s most recent annual earnings.  The Swatch Group inked an agreement with Tiffany & Co. in 2007 to manufacture and sell Tiffany branded timepieces, but the joint venture broke down in 2011 with Swatch alleging its American partner was blocking the development of the business.  An arbitration panel in the Netherlands awarded Swatch 402 million francs plus legal fees and other expenses. The panel also dismissed Tiffany’s counter-claim, according to the Swatch Group.  The award is a significant figure compared to the 4.18 billion francs in revenue the Swatch Group posted for the six months to July 2013. For the same period its net income was 768 million francs. More significantly, the sum exceeds Tiffany’s annual profit, which for the nine months to October 31 was US$285 million, with revenue of US$2.7 billion. Earlier this year Swatch acquired Harry Winston for US$1 billion including debt, adding the luxury jeweller to its stable of brands and filling the gap left by the split with Tiffany. The arbitration award is equivalent to about 45% of the acquisition cost. – SJX

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