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French luxury giant LVMH buys jeweller Tiffany for over $16 billion

Tiffany is the most iconic of US luxury brands.
Tiffany is the most iconic of US luxury brands. Mario Anzuoni, REUTERS

French luxury giant LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton said Monday it has reached a deal to buy US-based jewelry legend Tiffany & Co for $16.2 billion.

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LVMH said in a statement that the deal values the 180-year old Tiffany and its 300 boutiques worldwide at $135 a share. The agreed deal is higher than the $14.5 billion cash offer LVMH made last month.

The conglomerate said both companies' boards approved the deal and hope to finalize the takeover in 2020 subject to the approval of regulators and Tiffany shareholders.

LVMH says the deal will strengthen its position in high-end jewelry and in the US market.

LVMH already owns 75 brands including Christian Dior, Fendi, and Givenchy as well as watchmaker Tag Heuer. The purchase would also give LVMH a much broader foothold in the United States and broaden its offerings in jewelry.

Tiffany says the deal will ensure the company's long-term sustainability. Tiffany, which is trying to transform its brand to appeal to younger shoppers, could use a company with deep pockets to help expand its business.

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 like 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 US.

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

Still, Tiffany's US 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 US.

(AP)

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