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Tiffany wins ruling in dispute over US$419m Swatch payment

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Tiffany & Co won a Dutch court ruling setting aside a decision by arbitrators who ordered the jewelry chain to pay Swatch Group AG more than 402 million Swiss francs (S$571 million) in a dispute over a failed venture.

[ZURICH] Tiffany & Co won a Dutch court ruling setting aside a decision by arbitrators who ordered the jewelry chain to pay Swatch Group AG more than 402 million Swiss francs (S$571 million) in a dispute over a failed venture.

A three-judge panel in Amsterdam ruled in Tiffany's favour on Wednesday, the New York-based company said in a US regulatory filing. Swatch said it will appeal.

Swatch and Tiffany became embroiled in a legal battle in 2011 after the biggest maker of Swiss timepieces alleged the US jeweler blocked development of a partnership to make and sell watches under the Tiffany brand and share the profits. Dutch arbitrators, or private judges, ruled that Tiffany owed Swatch the 402 million francs, plus interest, in December 2013.

"The decision by this court is not enforceable yet since we will appeal," Swatch Chief Executive Officer Nick Hayek said by phone. "We won the original case and are very confident to win the next decision."

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The decision to appeal means that Swatch won't have to return any funds to Tiffany until a final ruling is issued by the Dutch courts. The appellate process could take at least 18 months, Tiffany said.

"While we appreciate that the district court's decision may be appealed and is therefore not yet final, we are encouraged by the court's assessment of the underlying deficiencies in the arbitral panel's ruling," Tiffany CEO Michael Kowalski said in a statement.

While arbitration awards are usually final, Dutch law does provide for limited grounds on which arbitral awards may be set aside, Tiffany said in the regulatory statement.

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