Tiffany & Co

Tiffany & Co. and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton are still headed to the alter — but a COVID-19 slowdown at the Australian regulatory agency could delay the high-end marriage. 

The New York-based jeweler said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday that it had received or was in the process of obtaining many of the necessary approvals from governments around the world to close the $16.2 billion acquisition. 

But the coronavirus outbreak has slowed the bureaucracy down in Australia. The country’s Competition and Consumer Commission issued a no-action letter on March 30, clearing the transaction. But a March 5 filing seeking the approval of the Australian Foreign Investment Review Board has been delayed. 

“As a result of the novel coronavirus outbreak, the Australian Treasurer has announced that FIRB is experiencing delays in processing transactions and, in keeping with the Australian government’s publicly announced policy of seeking six-month extensions on business applications, FIRB requested to extend its statutory review deadline of April 8 until Oct. 6, which LVMH has accepted,” Tiffany said in its filing.

Tiffany and LVMH are working with the FIRB to obtain approval as soon as possible, according to the filing.

The jeweler said it “expects to be in a position to close the merger in the middle of 2020, subject to the actual length of FIRB’s extended review of the transaction,” while noting the outbreak could also lead to delays elsewhere. 

Tiffany shareholders approved the deal on Feb. 4, which would mark the biggest luxury deal in Bernard Arnault’s long and storied career of high-end consolidation at LVMH.

Big deals from practiced acquirers are typically done for all intents and purposes when they’re first signed. The regulatory reviews are closely considered beforehand. But the unprecedented and nearly complete shutdown of the consumer economy that’s followed the COVID-19 outbreak is a wrinkle that few were considering when the deal was struck in November.

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