Tiffany & Co persuaded a court to fast-track a lawsuit claiming that LVMH is relying on faulty legal pretexts to try to cancel a $16 billion buyout, with the judge urging both sides to seek a settlement.
Delaware Chancery Court Judge Joseph Slights III rejected a request by the maker of Louis Vuitton bags and Moet & Chandon Champagne that he put off the case until well into next year. But the judge also denied the jewelry chain’s bid to have the matter decided before the deal’s November 24 closing date, setting a trial for January 5.
Slights suggested both companies should weigh whether to hold “productive conversations to avoid litigation.”
The ruling puts pressure on Paris-based LVMH to justify cancellation of the luxury industry’s largest-ever deal, struck last November before Covid-19 devastated the retail landscape. LVMH has pointed to a letter from the French government seeking to delay the deal’s closing because of a trade dispute with the US. It has also said its decision was driven by Tiffany’s missteps during the pandemic, such as continuing to pay dividends.
“LVMH is fully confident that it will be able to defeat Tiffany’s accusations and convince the court that the conditions necessary for the acquisition of Tiffany are no longer met,” the company said.
Though Tiffany had hoped Slights would rule before the transaction’s November 24 closing deadline, the judge said he was scheduling the trial with
an eye on the February 3 expiration of US antitrust clearance for the deal.
Tiffany Chairman Roger Farah said in a statement that the company welcomed the ruling and said the trial “will hopefully lead to a ruling prior to the expiration of US antitrust clearance and enable us to protect our company and our shareholders.”