Warren Buffett Said No to Tiffany & Co. Before LVMH Swept It Up: Report

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway currently owns three jewelers, all purchased between 1989 and 2000.

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway currently owns three jewelers, all purchased between 1989 and 2000. J. Countess/Getty Images

Iconic New York jeweler Tiffany & Co. could have maintained its American ownership had one of the country’s most deep-pocketed investors not passed on the deal to French luxury giant LVMH.

The fabled jeweler had approached Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway last year when it was looking for a buyer, sources told The Financial Times this week. The billionaire confirmed to the newspaper that the talk had taken place. But he declined the offer, thinking it was a tad too high.

SEE ALSO: Apple Loses ‘World’s Most Valuable Company’ Status Overnight

In late October, LVMH announced that it had offered to acquire Tiffany in an all-cash deal worth $14.2 billion. Tiffany later pushed LVMH to raise the offer to $16.2 billion and sealed the deal in November. With the takeover, Tiffany will join LVMH’s extensive family of luxury brands including Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Sephora, Moet & Chandon and others.

Luxury jewelers don’t typically fit Buffett’s bill when it comes to high-profile acquisitions, though his recent track record suggests a growing appetite for the upscale retail sector. (Last year, Berkshire Hathaway purchased $206 million shares of high-end furniture retailer RH, formerly Restoration Hardware.)

Berkshire Hathaway currently owns three jewelry sellers in its industrial- and finance-heavy portfolio: Seattle-based Ben Bridge Jeweler, Helzberg Diamonds and Borsheims Fine Jewelry, which is based in Buffett’s hometown of Omaha, Neb. All three were purchased between 1989 and 2000.

Buffetts owns a small stake in Tiffany as its creditor. In 2009, subsidiaries owned by Berkshire Hathaway bought $250 million worth of the jeweler’s debt.

As of the third quarter last year, Berkshire Hathaway had a record $128 billion of cash on its balance sheet. Industry observers are anxiously watching what Buffett plans to do with that money.

In November, Buffett backed out of a bidding war to acquire software and IT service distributor Tech Data Corp. His last major acquisition was Precision Castparts for $32 billion in 2015.

Warren Buffett Said No to Tiffany & Co. Before LVMH Swept It Up: Report