Business News: LVMH Offers to Buy Tiffany & Co.

To bulk up its jewellery division.

Luxury giant LVMH has made an offer to buy Tiffany & Co., America’s leading luxury jeweller (and the biggest retailer of Patek Philippe watches in the country), according to the Bloomberg. The French group made an all-cash offer of US$120 a share, a premium of about 22% over Tiffany’s last done share price and valuing the company at about US$14.4 billion.

That would make Tiffany’s the biggest acquisition ever for LVMH, which has seen its shares hit record highs recently, bringing its value to over US$210 billion. Despite being the world’s largest luxury group – its brands include Louis Vuitton, Bulgari, Rimowa, Hublot and DFS – LVMH is relatively weak in high-end jewellery, especially compared to Swiss rival Richemont, which owns Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Piaget, and only just picked up Buccellati.

Buying Tiffany would give LVMH a bigger presence in jewellery, as well as greater exposure to the United States, which is the jeweller’s biggest market, account for around a third of sales. LVMH only just opened a bag factory in Texas, the Louis Vuitton Rochambeau Ranch, in an event attended by Donald Trump and LVMH chief executive and controlling shareholder Bernard Arnault, who’s also the third-richest man in the world.

Best known for its diamond engagement rings and blue boxes, Tiffany suffered from a weak spell in recent years, with its former chief executive Frederic Cumenal, an LVMH alumni, lasting barely two years. After he departed in 2017, to be followed by the chairman shortly after, he was replaced by yet another LVMH man, Alessandro Bogliolo, who was the former chief operating officer of Bulgari.

Under Mr Bogliolo’s watch, Tiffany has enjoyed a minor recovery, but is still dogged by the US-China trade war, amongst other factors. Though its shares have recovered this year, they still lag behind the near 50% gain in LVMH stock.

Sources: Bloomberg and The New York Times

Update October 28, 2019: Added the offer value of US$140 a share.

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