Europe News

LVMH files countersuit against Tiffany in feud over $16 billion deal

Key Points
  • The suit, filed Monday in Delaware, says that LVMH "continues to have full confidence in its position that the conditions necessary to close the acquisition of Tiffany have not been met."
  • It adds that the "spurious arguments put forward by Tiffany are completely unfounded."
Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg

LVMH said Tuesday it had filed a countersuit against Tiffany in a bid to walk away from the $16.2 billion takeover that would have been the biggest ever in the luxury industry.

The suit, filed Monday in Delaware, says that LVMH "continues to have full confidence in its position that the conditions necessary to close the acquisition of Tiffany have not been met." It adds that the "spurious arguments put forward by Tiffany are completely unfounded."

The announcement is the latest in a saga that saw the Louis Vuitton owner scrap the acquisition in early September. In a statement at the time, France's LVMH said that it would not be able to complete the acquisition of Tiffany "as it stands." 

The firm cited the threat of U.S. tariffs on French goods and Tiffany's request to extend the deal deadline to the end of the year.

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LVMH files countersuit against Tiffany

Jewelry chain Tiffany immediately filed a lawsuit in Delaware to enforce the agreement, saying the request from the French government had no basis in law.

'Specious arguments'

In the suit on Monday, LVMH mentioned the coronavirus crisis, saying that a "material adverse effect" has now occurred. In a strong rebuke, it also slammed Tiffany's "mismanagement of its business" which, it said, constitutes a blatant breach of its obligation to operate in the ordinary course.

"For instance, Tiffany paid the highest possible dividends while the company was burning cash and reporting losses. No other luxury company in the world did so during this crisis. There are many examples of mismanagement detailed in the filing, including slashing capital and marketing investments and taking on additional debt," LVMH's statement Tuesday said.

Tiffany responded Tuesday saying that LVMH had offered no support for its claim that it breached its obligation to conduct its business in the ordinary course. It also claimed that the real reason LVMH complained about the dividend payments is that it wanted the cash left in the company for its benefit.

Tiffany Chair Roger Farah said in a press release: "LVMH's specious arguments are yet another blatant attempt to evade its contractual obligation to pay the agreed-upon price for Tiffany. Tiffany has acted in full compliance with the Merger Agreement, and we are confident the Court will agree at trial and require specific performance by LVMH."

—CNBC's Amelia Lucas and Lauren Thomas contributed to this article.