191125 Tiffany
How much is Tiffany worth? A new deal could value fabled American brand about $425 million lower than what LVMH was willing to pay earlier. Image Credit: Reuters

Paris: LVMH is nearing an agreement to revive its derailed purchase of Tiffany & Co., with the French luxury conglomerate poised to save about $425 million from the original price tag. The French company has proposed a price of about $131.50 a share, down from the original $135.

The total cost of the original agreement was about $16 billion. The two sides are still finalizing details of a compromise and the price could change. The talks could also fall apart.

Bloomberg reported that Tiffany is seeking around $132 a share as a compromise price. The jeweler would also likely want a guarantee that LVMH wouldn't back out of any revised deal, after the Louis Vuitton owner said in September it couldn't complete the acquisition because of a French government request.

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War of words

A compromise would end a year-long saga involving a bitter war of words, French government intervention and lawsuits in the US. By striking a new deal, the companies could avoid a courtroom battle that was set for January in Delaware.

The original deal's closing date of November 24 would not be met, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Adding Tiffany would give LVMH Chairman Bernard Arnault a major boost in the global jewelry market, letting the billionaire challenge Cartier owner Richemont for supremacy as the luxury industry begins to recover from a turbulent 2020. At LVMH, Tiffany would join a portfolio of high-end brands that include Dior, Givenchy and Bulgari.

An icon

The relationship between Tiffany and LVMH started affably last year following a short courtship, with the jeweler hosting Arnault and his top brass at its New York flagship store. France's wealthiest man spoke of Tiffany as an American icon and expressed his "intense respect and admiration" for the business.

The smiles faded soon after the coronavirus pandemic sparked worldwide economic turmoil and roiled the global luxury market. LVMH got a helping hand from the French government when its foreign minister sent a letter asking the company to delay the deal amid a trade dispute with the US.

That sparked a Tiffany lawsuit, followed by an LVMH counter-suit in which it accused the jeweler's executives of mismanaging the business during the pandemic.