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Tiffany amends debt agreements amid LVMH deal, sales slump

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US luxury jeweller Tiffany & Co, which is being bought by France's LVMH for US$16 billion, said on Tuesday it had amended some of its debt agreements to bolster its liquidity amid the coronavirus pandemic after its quarterly sales sank 44 per cent.

[BENGALURU] US luxury jeweller Tiffany & Co, which is being bought by France's LVMH for US$16 billion, said on Tuesday it had amended some of its debt agreements to bolster its liquidity amid the coronavirus pandemic after its quarterly sales sank 44 per cent.

Sources have told Reuters that LVMH chief executive officer (CEO) Bernard Arnault has been exploring ways to potentially pressure Tiffany to lower the agreed price of US$135 per share, including by examining its compliance with its debt covenants.

However, Mr Arnault has decided not to renegotiate the agreed price for now, sources told Reuters on Friday.

An LVMH spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

New York-based Tiffany said on Tuesday it had ample cash on hand and was in compliance with all debt covenants as of April 30.

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"I am confident that Tiffany's best days remain ahead of us and I am excited we will be taking that journey with LVMH by our side," Tiffany CEO Alessandro Bogliolo said in a statement.

The acquisition has yet to receive some of the necessary regulatory approvals, and LVMH could revisit the issue before the deal closes, especially if Tiffany's financial condition deteriorates.

The company's comparable sales, excluding the effects of currency exchange rates, tumbled in the first quarter ended April 30, as the outbreak gutted demand for its luxury jewellery. Dubbed a "non-essential" retailer, Tiffany was forced to shutter stores to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Tiffany, founded in 1837 and known for its signature robin's-egg blue boxes, will face further challenges as spending patterns shift and international tourism nosedives amid the pandemic and trade tensions between Beijing and Washington.

Net sales nearly halved to US$555.5 million, while it posted a loss of US$64.6 million, or US$0.53 per share, compared with a profit of US$125.2 million, or US$1.03 per share, a year earlier.

Shares were trading up nearly 1 per cent in premarket trading.

Tiffany said on Tuesday it had received antitrust clearances from Mexican and Russian authorities for the purchase by LVMH, originally agreed upon in November.

The amendments raised Tiffany's allowed leverage ratio to 4.5 from 3.5 previously, a level some analysts said the luxury retailer was at risk of breaching in the second quarter.

REUTERS

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