Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's — the firm is pondering a French buyout from luxury giant LVMH. Credit: Handout.

French luxury group LVMH has offered to buy Tiffany & Co. for US$14.5 billion in cash, sending shares in the New York jewelers soaring, China Daily reported.

The purchase would add another household name to LVMH’s plethora of upscale brands. It owns fashion names such as Christian Dior, Fendi, and Givenchy as well as watchmaker Tag Heuer.

It would also give LVMH a much broader foothold in the United States and broaden its offerings in jewelry, the report said.

LVMH cautioned in a brief statement that “there can be no assurance that these discussions will result in any agreement.”

Tiffany said the offer was for US$120 a share, which is about US$14.5 billion. The Wall Street Journal first reported on the offer over the weekend.

The New York-based company said Monday that it was considering the offer. Its shares jumped 31% to US$128.81 in premarket trading in New York.

LVMH, owned by France’s richest man, Bernard Arnault, has brands including Christian Dior, Givenchy, and Bulgari.

Oliver Chen, an analyst at Cowen, predicts that LVMH would need to propose at least US$160 per share to secure a deal, CNN Business reported.

Chen pointed to the company’s strong brand as a “diamond and bridal authority,” as well as its growth potential in China.

LVMH is the world’s biggest luxury group. The company is home to 75 different brands, and it has for years been the top seller of high-end goods, according to a Deloitte analysis published this year.

Last year, the retail giant took in 46.8 billion euros (US$51.9 billion) in revenue, CNN Business reported.

Tiffany has had a more complicated story. The company has long dealt with slumping sales, and in 2017 it replaced its CEO after disappointing financial results.

Since then, it has been working to rebrand its image to attract more millennials — adding more products that are designed to appeal to young shoppers, rolling out more targeted marketing and revamping its historic flagship store in New York City to draw in more customers, CNN Business reported.

In the company’s most recent earnings report in August, it said that global sales dropped 3% in the first half of this year. But it also said it enjoyed “strong growth” in mainland China, where the slowing economy has put pressure on the broader luxury sector.

An acquisition of Tiffany would be one of LVMH’s splashiest deals to date. In 2017, the company took over Christian Dior for US$13 billion, and last year it snapped up the ritzy Belmond hotel chain for US$2.6 billion.

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