LVMH, DE BEERS STILL UNDER EC PROBE

LONDON — The proposed joint venture between LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton and The De Beers Group hit a bump on Wednesday when the European Commission extended its investigation into the plan.
The EC was due to rule on the proposed company Wednesday after a statutory four-week investigation, which is normal with any venture of this type. However, it asked De Beers and LVMH for additional time to probe more deeply into the plan, which aims to create a major global prestige jewelry brand to rival Cartier, Tiffany and Bulgari.
As reported, De Beers and LVMH would equally own the venture and would invest about $400 million in it over the next five years, split equally between the two partners. The first collections are expected to be launched within the next 12 to 18 months.
Neither EC nor LVMH officials could be reached for elaboration at press time. A De Beers spokesman here said the company’s lawyers were evaluating the commission’s ruling to determine a response. An extension as requested by the EC could last another four months, he said.
“We are confident that given an extension, we will be able to satisfy all the commission’s concerns,” the spokesman added.

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