By Matthew Dalton 
 

PARIS--Luxury-goods giant LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE said Wednesday it was backing out of its $16.2 billion takeover of Tiffany & Co, claiming that both Tiffany and the French government asked it to delay the acquisition beyond the closing date allowed by the merger agreement.

LVMH said the French foreign ministry had sent it a letter asking the company to delay the acquisition to after Jan. 6, 2021 because of the threat of trade tariffs from the U.S.

LVMH said Tiffany asked to delay the acquisition until Dec. 31 of this year.

Tiffany said Wednesday that it has filed a lawsuit in Delaware to enforce the agreement, saying the request from the French foreign ministry has no basis in law.

The merger agreement sets Nov. 24 of this year as the final date for completing the deal. LVMH and Tiffany had already agreed to push back the initial deadline from Aug. 24 to Nov. 24.

Tiffany said LVMH hadn't sought approval for the merger in several key jurisdictions, including the European Union, making finalization of the deal difficult before Nov. 24

A spokeswoman for the French foreign ministry didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The plan to acquire the American jeweler was the biggest ever attempted by Bernard Arnault, chief executive and controlling shareholder of LVMH. It was completed shortly before the coronavirus pandemic threw the luxury goods market into turmoil. Over the summer, Mr. Arnault had been reconsidering whether to move forward with the deal, but the agreement signed between the two companies appeared to give him little leeway to back out.

 

Write to Matthew Dalton at matthew.dalton@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 09, 2020 07:19 ET (11:19 GMT)

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