(Bloomberg) — Bernard Arnault has proven once more that he relishes a good fight.
France’s wealthiest man attempted to pull out of a high-profile transaction this week when LVMH, the luxury conglomerate he controls, announced that it was dropping its planned purchase of U.S. jeweler Tiffany & Co. The collapse of the biggest takeover in the industry swiftly turned ugly, with Tiffany accusing LVMH of having “unclean hands” and the French side hitting back by saying the U.S. company was poorly run.
Adding to the drama, Arnault didn’t just walk away from the $16 billion prize. By getting a helping hand from the French government — which the company says essentially demanded the deal be postponed — Arnault underscored his reach into the highest political echelons. The move showed his willingness to spring a surprise on opponents to get his way.
But Arnault appears to have made up