After over a year of negotiations, withdrawals, lawsuits, and countersuits, luxury conglomerate giant LVMH has finally completed its purchase of iconic New York based jeweler and watchmaker Tiffany & Co. The main point of contention during the lengthy merger process has been the overall price of acquisition for the famous jewelry brand, set initially at $16.2 billion in stock buyouts. Over the course of a lengthy and often heated process that has seen both parties file lawsuits and LVMH rescind its offer completely in June 2020, the final price for the buyout was set in late October 2020 at $131.50 per share in cash. This leads to a total acquisition price of $15.8 billion.
When asked to comment on the completed merger, LVMH Chairman and CEO Bernard Arnault stated, “I am pleased to welcome Tiffany and all their talented employees in our Group. Tiffany is an iconic brand and a quintessential emblem of the global jewelry sector. We are committed to supporting Tiffany, a brand that is synonymous with love and whose Blue Box is revered around the world, with the same dedication and passion that we have applied to each of our prestigious Maisons over the years. We are optimistic about Tiffany’s ability to accelerate its growth, innovate and remain at the forefront of our discerning customers’ most cherished life achievements and memories. I would like to thank Alessandro Bogliolo and his team for their dedication to Tiffany and their work over the past three years, especially during this challenging period.” At the same time, LVMH announced that current Tiffany & Co. CEO Alessandro Bogliolo will be leaving the company after helping to facilitate the transition through January 22, 2021, while former Tiffany & Co. Senior Vice President for North America Anthony Ledru has been appointed CEO at Tiffany & Co. effective immediately. Ledru has a long service record in leadership for both Tiffany & Co. and LVMH, having also previously served as Executive Vice President of Commercial Activities for Louis Vuitton from 2017 to 2021.
The full scope of the merger’s impact on the watch industry at large will be clearer with time, but the addition of Tiffany & Co. to the LVMH conglomerate’s already robust stable of luxury watch brands continues the current trend of brands being consolidated under a handful of massive holding groups. Tiffany & Co. joins a list of high-profile watch brands under the LVMH banner including TAG Heuer, Zenith, Bulgari, Hublot, Chaumet, and Dior Watches. Beyond potential reworks to Tiffany & Co.’s own line of in-house watches, it is unclear so far what this final merger will mean for the brand’s iconic brick and mortar retail chain, or the list of available brands sold under the roof of Tiffany & Co. stores.
Also potentially in question is the future of the fabled Tiffany & Co. signed dial, which has been a coveted feature among collectors of watches ranging from Rolex to Patek Philippe and more. The iconic jeweler’s continuous relationship with Patek Philippe in particular is a deep and storied one, dating back to 1876, but no statement has been made on the future of this partnership. On the other hand, there is a strong potential for future Tiffany-signed releases for brands like Zenith, TAG Heuer, and Bulgari, which may create a strong collector following in the coming years.
While Tiffany & Co.’s sales have been gradually slipping over the past several years due to an aging clientele and a general shifting of market trends away from traditional retail stores, the brand still holds a prime position in both luxury retail and the public consciousness. Whatever changes the acquisition may bring to the iconic brand with the blue box or to the LVMH group as a whole, the size and prestige of this sale is likely to have far-reaching consequences throughout the watch and luxury retail industries in the future. For more details, visit LVMH’s website.