(Reuters) - French luxury goods giant LVMH LVMH.PA on Wednesday decided to walk away from its planned $16 billion takeover of U.S. jeweler Tiffany TIF.N, throwing into jeopardy what would have been the biggest-ever deal in the global luxury industry.
Tiffany countered with a lawsuit accusing LVMH of deliberately stalling the completion of the takeover.
The following is a timeline on the takeover saga:
SEPT. 9, 2020
LVMH decides to walk away from the multi-billion-dollar deal. Tiffany then says it is suing LVMH and seeking a court order requiring the French group to abide by its contractual obligation under the deal to complete the transaction on the agreed terms.
SEPT. 8, 2020
Tiffany’s Chairman Roger Farah learns during a call with LVMH’s Managing Director Antonio Belloni of a letter from the French foreign ministry to LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault saying the company should delay the deal until Jan. 6, 2021. Belloni said Arnault had met with the French government to discuss the letter and tells Farah the LVMH board believed Tiffany had not operated its business in accordance with the merger agreement.
AUG. 31, 2020
France's foreign ministry writes to Arnault saying LVMH should delay the deal to take part in the "country's efforts to defend its national interests" amid a U.S.-European Union tariff war. (bit.ly/2Rc9F7L)
AUG. 27, 2020
Tiffany reports a stronger-than-expected quarterly profit and signals an uptick in sales due to a recovery in China and online demand.
AUG. 24, 2020
The companies give themselves another three months to complete the tie-up after the deal did not close on Aug. 24, the date set out in deal documents, according to a source familiar with the discussions.
JULY 27, 2020
Arnault, in an interview, acknowledges Tiffany’s quarterly results have been hit by the coronavirus crisis, but says LVMH will respect the acquisition contract signed by the company.
JUNE 16, 2020
South Korea’s fair trade commission formally approves the merger.
JUNE 9, 2020
Tiffany amends some of its debt terms to give itself financial breathing space, as it seeks to ensure the sale to LVMH is completed.
The U.S. luxury jeweler also says it received antitrust clearances from Mexican and Russian authorities.
JUNE 5, 2020
LVMH will not ask to renegotiate the acquisition after deliberating whether to do so, sources familiar with the deal say.
JUNE 3, 2020
LVMH CEO Arnault explores ways to reopen negotiations on the deal, as U.S. social unrest and the coronavirus pandemic weigh on the retail sector, according to people familiar with the matter.
JUNE 2, 2020
LVMH’s board calls a meeting in Paris to discuss the deal, fashion trade publication WWD reports, citing sources.
APRIL 30, 2020
LVMH’s legal team in an email to Tiffany’s lawyers blamed delays with antitrust regulators on a need to “to ensure that any future luxury goods transactions or investigations (including ones that involve Tiffany and the luxury jewelry segment) are not undermined by advocacy we submit today,” according to Tiffany’s lawsuit. Tiffany’s lawsuit said this raised the prospect the deal might be delayed “in the hopes of greasing the skids for LVMH to receive antitrust clearance in potential future transactions.”
APRIL 14, 2020
Tiffany’s legal team begins to press LVMH to explain why it is lagging in its responses to antitrust regulators who have been seeking more information on the deal. “Any sign of progress on all these fronts and expected completion targets would be much appreciated!” wrote Tiffany’s lawyers to their counterparts at LVMH, according to the lawsuit.
APRIL 8, 2020
Australian regulators seek more time to review the takeover due to the COVID-19 outbreak, an early indication of delays in closure of the deal.
MARCH 23, 2020
LVMH says it will not buy Tiffany shares on the open market, a move that would have potentially enabled it to pursue its agreement to buy the U.S. jeweler at a lower price than the one agreed.
LVMH’s lawyers cancelled a weekly antitrust call with Tiffany’s legal team, which Tiffany said in its lawsuit marked the start of foot-dragging on antitrust compliance as a strategy to kill the deal.
MARCH 17, 2020
Tiffany announces temporary closure of several stores, including its Fifth Avenue flagship store in New York, and reduces working hours at other outlets, in an effort to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
According to Tiffany’s lawsuits, LVMH approaches the Tiffany board about a waiver that would allow it to purchase on the open market Tiffany shares, which had dropped as low as $104 per share. The Tiffany board informed LVMH any waiver would have to be publicly disclosed.
NOV. 25, 2019
LVMH formally announces agreement to buy Tiffany for $16.2 billion in its biggest acquisition yet. The $135-per-share cash offer is backed by Tiffany’s board.
NOV. 24, 2019
LVMH is close to buying Tiffany for about $16.3 billion after sweetening its offer, sources said.
NOV. 20, 2019
Tiffany agrees to provide LVMH access to its books, after the latter sweetened its bid to close to $130 per share.
NOV. 6, 2019
Tiffany asks LVMH to raise its $14.5 billion acquisition offer, arguing that it significantly undervalues the U.S. company, people familiar with the matter said.
OCT. 27, 2019
Louis Vuitton owner approaches Tiffany with a $14.5 billion acquisition offer, or at about $120 per share, sources said.
Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru and Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Sweta Singh and Alistair Bell
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.