Questions over curious intervention of French state as luxury firm LVMH breaks deal with Tiffany

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France's foreign minister has written an extraordinary letter that provides 'cover' for the French luxury goods group LVMH to pull out of an expensive deal to buy famous American jewellery firm Tiffany it no longer wanted to complete. That letter came after LVMH chief executive Bernard Arnault reportedly asked foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian for help. The affair is now likely to lead to a long and bitter legal battle, one that could even end up with the French state facing claims for compensation from disgruntled shareholders. Mediapart's Martine Orange argues in this op-ed article that no French government has ever gone out on such a limb to support a private company.

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The French government, it appears, is unable to refuse Bernard Arnault anything. The French luxury goods group LVMH, of which Arnault is chief executive and chairman, had been regretting its agreed purchase of the famous American jewellers Tiffany after the Covid epidemic and lockdown dented the trading performance of both companies. Now the French group has controversially pulled out of the deal after the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs helpfully wrote a letter to the company calling on it to defer the deal in order to 'defend [France's] national interests'.