There are “whispers” in the luxury industry that LVMH—owner of Tiffany and dozens of other high-end brands—might have its sights set on rival luxury conglomerate Richemont, according to Swiss newspaper Finanz und Wirtschaft.
“Observers believe that [LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault] has already tried to put pressure on [his] Swiss competitor in a roundabout way,” it said.
LVMH was said to be particularly interested in Richemont’s best-known jewelry holding, Cartier.
Both LVMH and Richemont did not respond to requests for comment by JCK by the time of publication.
The newspaper was careful to note that the takeover talk is currently “little more than a whisper.”
On Twitter, Simone Stern, the reporter who wrote the story, added: “LVMH will not let up until they’ve acquired Richemont – and Johann Rupert could step down from his position as [Richemont] Chairman as early as this year, some say.”
Influential fashion and luxury newsletter Miss Tweed cast doubt on the report.
“Luxury investors got excited last week after the German-Swiss newspaper Finanz und Wirtschaft published a story suggesting LVMH was interested in buying Richemont,” wrote editor Astrid Wendlandt on LinkedIn. “It turned out to be fake news. The market didn’t take it seriously and Richemont’s shares hardly moved.”
Richemont’s stable of brands includes Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Buccellati, Baume & Mercier, Vacheron Constantin, Panerai, and Jaeger-LeCoultre.
Considering the large footprint LVMH already has, a possible tie-up would likely raise significant antitrust concerns.
“As it is, LVMH’s revenues are more or less the same as the combined revenues of its next six largest competitors,” wrote Bryce Quillin, founder of strategy agency It’s a Working Title, on Twitter.
Richemont-owned Cartier and LVMH-owned Tiffany recently settled a lawsuit over a Tiffany employee’s purported theft of Cartier’s “trade secrets.”
Last September, Richemont shareholders voted down a proposal to add former LVMH exec Francesco Trapani to its board, with Richemont chair Rupert calling him an “inappropriate” candidate given his longtime ties to its rival.
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