US judge speeds up Tiffany’s case over $ 16 billion LVMH deal, sets January trial
NEW YORK (Reuters) – A U.S. court on Monday expedited Tiffany & Co’s lawsuit against French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH for trying to reverse its $ 16 billion (£ 12.48 billion) deal for acquire the jeweler.
Delaware Chancery Court Vice Chancellor Joseph Slights has said he will hold a four-day trial starting Jan.5, 2021, after the Nov. 24 deadline for closing the largest luxury merger deal, but before the start of antitrust approvals. expire.
LVMH’s acquisition of Tiffany hit the nail on the head this month after the owner of Louis Vuitton said he could no longer complete the purchase, citing French government intervention and the US jeweler’s weakening performance in due to COVID-19.
Slights said he hoped Tiffany and LVMH could have “productive discussions to avoid recourse to litigation,” referring to a potential settlement.
Tiffany had been pushing for a trial before November 24. The French luxury goods conglomerate has argued for a lawsuit starting in March or April next year.
In a statement, LVMH said it was “fully confident” of being able to thwart Tiffany’s accusations and convince the court that the conditions of the agreement are no longer met.
“In the coming months, LVMH will demonstrate to American justice that Tiffany’s mismanagement during the COVID-19 crisis constitutes a significant negative effect,” according to a statement.
Tiffany chairman Roger Farah said in a statement he acted in “good faith”.
Ed Micheletti, who represents LVMH, said Tiffany claims the pandemic has had no financial impact on its business.
“It’s hard to see how they can say this with a straight face,” he said.
Rick Pepperman, a lawyer representing Tiffany, said LVMH was seeking to force Tiffany to renegotiate.
“This is what we suspect that LVMH and Bernard Arnault really want, they want to acquire Tiffany but at a lower price than they agreed on last November,” said Pepperman.
The move is the first time Slights weighs in on the broken deal, the most publicized in a series of deals dropped in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although the trial is now scheduled after the expiration of the agreement, LVMH has said in court documents that it will honor the so-called “specific performance” – the closing of the agreement – if the court finds it couldn’t give it up.
Slights said in Monday’s hearing that this was the preferred course of action over monetary damages.
Reporting by Jessica DiNapoli in New York and Tom Hals in Delaware; additional reports from Melissa Fares; edited by Jonathan Oatis and Sam Holmes