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LVMH to consolidate hold on Dior in multibillion-euro deal

FILE - In this Jan.25, 2016 file photo, the Rodin museum, venue for Christian Dior's Spring- Summer 2016 Haute Couture fashion collection, is reflected in Paris. The magnate behind the LVMH luxury empire is seeking to strengthen control over Christian Dior in a multibillion-dollar deal combining the fashion industry heavyweights. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File)

PARIS (AP) — The French magnate behind LVMH moved to incorporate Christian Dior into his luxury goods empire in a 12 billion-euro ($13 billion) deal.

It’s the latest business coup for Bernard Arnault, who has expanded LVMH to include dozens of leading luxury brands — from high-end champagne and whiskies, to exclusive Louis Vuitton handbags, Hermes, Kenzo and Givenchy perfumes and Bulgari and TAG Heuer watches.

Dior Couture, launched in 1946 and seen as the pinnacle of Paris fashion, would be a major addition to the LVMH stable. Christian Dior saved post-war French fashion with his “New Look” and today the house’s Paris fashion week shows are among the most exclusive and extravagant of the season.

Under the terms of the deal, which is intended to simplify complex ownership structures, Groupe Arnault, primarily an investment firm, will make a cash-and-share offer for the minority of Christian Dior shares it doesn’t currently own in June. The deal values Dior at 260 euros per share.

After that, LVMH, which is also controlled by Arnault, will take control of the Christian Dior Couture high-end fashion house business for 6.5 billion euros ($7.1 billion).

Shares in both Christian Dior and LVMH Moet Hennessy – Louis Vuitton rose after the announcement of the long-awaited deal. Dior shares spiked 11.7 percent to 253.45 euros by mid-afternoon Tuesday, while LVMH shares were up 4.2 percent at 223.65 euros.

The hope is that by combining Dior’s brands under one roof and simplifying internal activities, savings will be generated.

Insisting that there would not be a major upheaval, LVMH Chief Financial Officer Jean-Jacques Guiony said the Arnault family, “decided it would make sense to invest 12 billion euros of their private money” into further consolidating their holdings.

“That’s a major decision and major commitment, and proof of faith and confidence for the future,” he said.

The companies laid out their hope that Dior’s fashion revenues and profit, which have risen in recent years, will be a “source of growth” for LVMH, particularly with development in the U.S., China and Japan. Since becoming Dior’s head designer last year — the first woman to hold the job in its 70-year history — Maria Grazia Chiurri has sought to explore gender boundaries and rework the Dior aesthetic.

The proposed deal will still need regulatory approval and consultations with workers. The hope is that the deal will be completed in the second half of this year.

Guiony said the announcement had no connection to the results of France’s presidential voting Sunday, which saw centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right Marine Le Pen progress to a May 7 runoff. Macron is favored to win.

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