French Firm to Buy Tiffany for $16.2 Billion

PARIS (AP) — French luxury group LVMH has agreed to buy iconic New York jeweler Tiffany & Co. for $16.2 billion, adding a star to its portfolio that already boasts Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Bulgari.

LVMH said in a statement Monday that it will buy the 182-year old Tiffany and its 300 boutiques worldwide at $135 a share. The deal is higher than the $14.5 billion cash offer LVMH made in October.

French luxury giant LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton said Monday it has reached a deal to buy U.S.-based jewelry legend Tiffany & Co for $16.2 billion. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

Tiffany — known for its jewelry, distinctive blue boxes and an Audrey Hepburn movie — says the deal will ensure its long-term sustainability. Tiffany, which is trying to transform its brand to appeal to younger and digital shoppers, could use a company with deep pockets to help expand its business.

LVMH’s share price rose on the announcement, trading up by 2% Monday at 403.50 euros.

Paris-based LVMH, led by billionaire Bernard Arnault, says the deal will strengthen its position in high-end jewelry and in the U.S. market. The purchase gives the French conglomerate a new star in its already distinctive portfolio — one that will help it compete with Gucci-owner Kering Group and Cartier-owner Richemont SA.

LVMH already owns 75 brands, including Christian Dior, Fendi, and Givenchy as well as watchmaker Tag Heuer. Its flagship brand Louis Vuitton recently opened a handbag workshop in Texas.

LVMH said both companies’ boards approved the deal and hope to finalize the complete in 2020, subject to the approval of regulators and Tiffany shareholders.

The offer comes as luxury goods companies have been wrestling with changing habits of shoppers who are increasingly buying online. They’re also purchasing second-hand luxury items from places such as The RealReal.com.

In addition, luxury companies are facing fears of an economic slowdown in China, a key area of business, while they’re already dealing with a slowdown in international tourism in the United States.

Under CEO Alessandro Bogliolo, Tiffany is trying to appeal to younger shoppers with more modern takes on jewelry. It launched a men’s jewelry collection this year, and it’s increasing its marketing to a more diverse customer base such as same-sex couples. It’s also been renovating its flagship store in Manhattan.

Still, Tiffany’s U.S. sales have been stagnating as China’s slowing economy has weighed on spending by Chinese tourists, who make up a substantial portion of luxury spending. The strong dollar has also made Tiffany products more expensive for consumers outside the United States.

Tiffany also is highlighting ways customers can personalize jewelry and letting people trace the origin of their diamonds.

Tiffany had sales of $4.4 billion in 2018, an increase of nearly 7% over 2017. LVMH reported 6.3 billion euros in profits in 2018 on 46.8 billion euros in sales.

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