The $16 billion acquisition of Tiffany (NYSE:TIF) by LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (OTC:LVMUY) looks dead. The luxury conglomerate says it can't get the deal done by the extended Nov. 24 deadline because the French government is requesting that it delay the purchase until January due to the threat of U.S. tariffs on French goods.

The high-end jeweler, however, says it is not patriotic duty that is keeping LVMH from completing the $16 billion deal, but simple foot-dragging, and Tiffany announced on Wednesday that it is suing LVMH to close the acquisition.

Tiffany blue jewelry boxes

Image source: Tiffany.

The purchase plan was announced last November, but the coronavirus pandemic threw it into turmoil. LVMH said early on that it wouldn't take advantage of Tiffany's depressed stock price to buy the shares at a discounted price on the open market, which could have saved it about 20% over the $135 share price in the original purchase agreement. But by June, LVMH was looking to renegotiate the deal, a decision it later walked back.

While the original closing deadline of Aug. 24 was seen by both sides as more than sufficient time to get all the regulatory approvals needed, LVMH never even applied for antitrust clearance required in three jurisdictions by that date, so Tiffany agreed to push the deadline back to Nov. 24.

The jeweler argues that date is now less than three months away and LVMH still hasn't applied for regulatory approval in those jurisdictions. 

Since LVMH said it intends to comply with the French government's request, but refuses to extend the closing deadline beyond Nov. 24, Tiffany chairman Roger Farah said, "We believe that LVMH will seek to use any available means in an attempt to avoid closing the transaction on the agreed terms."

As a result, it has filed a lawsuit in the State of Delaware Court of Chancery to force the deal to get done.

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