The company behind Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior is building its legal team as it fights claims that its trying to wiggle out of a $16 billion merger with Tiffany.
LVMH has hired famed French lawyer Jean-Michel Darrois to help advise it on the battle, which threatens to raise the curtain on French governmental proceedings, two sources close to the situation said.
Darrois, a commander of the French Legion of Honor, has been a public supporter of French President Emmanuel Macron. In 1999, he defended French Prime Minister Laurent Fabius in a suit that obtained a dismissal and is now a counselor to French CEOs and other wealthy people.
The battle between the two retailers kicked off earlier this month when LVMH said it wouldn’t be able to complete its $16.2 billion merger of the New York jeweler featured in the 1961 flick “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” by the Nov. 24 deadline. In a statement, LVMH said the French government had instructed it in a letter to wait until Jan. 6 of next year to close the deal in response to the US’s threat to impose tariffs on French goods.
Tiffany has sued LVMH in Delaware to force it to meet the Nov. 24 deadline because once the merger agreement expires, LVMH can seek to lower the price or walk away.
And as The Post has previously reported, people close to Tiffany have been raising questions about whether LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault, or those close to him, pressured French government officials for help in obtaining the letter as a pretext to delay the merger. “LVMH’s shifting explanations indicate bad faith in its dealings with Tiffany and are nothing more than distractions meant to hide its efforts to run out the clock and avoid fulfilling its obligations under the merger agreement,” Tiffany said in a statement on Wednesday.
The company has blasted LVMH’s government request as “a non-binding advisory letter” and is expected to explore whether France can even order a company to stop a merger without first going through the European Union.
Darrois is expected to help LVMH — and Arnault, the richest man in Europe — manage this aspect of the case and not the Delaware court lawsuit, sources said.
”He’s viewed in Paris as the ultimate consigliere,” the source said.
LVMH, which declined to comment, has said it is doing all it can to close the deal.
Amazon unveils supermarket palm reader to lower checkout times
Amazon is getting into palm-reading — but it wants to sell you groceries rather than tell your fortune.
The e-commerce colossus on Thursday officially announced a new checkout-counter device that will allow shoppers to pay for groceries at retail stores using the palms of their hands — a year after The Post revealed that the project was in the works.
The so-called Amazon One device uses high-tech imaging and algorithms to create and detect a “unique palm signature” based on the ridges, lines and veins in each person’s hand.
The system, which the company has rolled out at two of its Amazon Go stores in Seattle, uses the biometric information to link each hand to a credit card the shopper has on file.
“We believe Amazon One has broad applicability beyond our retail stores, so we also plan to offer the service to third parties like retailers, stadiums, and office buildings so that more people can benefit from this ease and convenience in more places,” Dilip Kumar, Amazon’s vice president of physical retail and technology, wrote in a blog post.
The Post reported last year that Amazon’s ultimate goal is to roll out its hand scanners at all Whole Foods supermarkets.
Amazon acquired the organic-goods chain for $13.4 billion in June 2017.
At the time of The Post’s 2019 report, an Amazon spokesperson refused to answer questions about the technology, then code-named “Project Orville.”
While a regular card transaction typically takes between three and four seconds, Amazon’s technology can process the charge in less than 300 milliseconds, a person familiar with the project said.
“Retailers have always been interested in faster checkout,” Majd Maksad, founder and CEO of Status Money, a personal finance site, told The Post in 2019.
“You only have to walk into Whole Foods to see the massive lines of people waiting to check out. It’s a massive friction point.”
If the technology succeeds, it could also help encourage consumers to spend more money when they visit Whole Foods, Maksad said.
“People tend to spend more when they don’t have the experience of touching something tangible like money,” Maksad said. “The utility of money becomes more ephemeral.”
The gadget builds on the “Just Walk Out” technology that Amazon uses in its Go stores, which detects the items shoppers pick up and charges them once they leave — without the need for a checkout line.
Amazon is also planning to expand the cashier-less technology to Whole Foods, as The Post reported last month.
The palm images Amazon One uses are encrypted and stored in a “highly secure” cloud, and customers can request to have their palm data deleted, Kumar said.
50 more people axed in Subway’s cold cuts
Subway Restaurants on Tuesday laid off about 50 people in its business-development and leasing units, or more than 5 percent of its corporate staff, The Post has learned.
The layoffs, which mark the struggling chain’s third round of cuts this year, hit the two sections at Subway’s Milford, Connecticut, headquarters, a company insider said.
In February, before the pandemic hit, Subway laid off 300 staffers in Milford, or about one-quarter of its corporate workforce, in a “streamlining” process spearheaded by CEO John Chidsey, who took over last year.
Chidsey slashed another 150 jobs in May after the pandemic forced officials to close indoor dining around the country. There have been a smattering of other job cuts at the Milford campus in recent weeks, the insider said.
Subway, which didn’t return a request for comment, started the year with about 1,200 employees, a number that appears to have shrunk by more than 40 percent, to roughly 700 people.
Chidsey, the former CEO of Burger King, was brought on to help reverse Subway’s declining sales, a trend that kicked off in 2015 after longtime spokesman Jared Fogle pleaded guilty to child-pornography charges.
Chidsey in September began requiring franchisees, many of whom are still generating lower sales than a year ago, to resume pre-COVID operating schedules of roughly 84 hours a week. Subway owns none of its roughly 23,000 US restaurants and takes in 8 percent of gross royalties.
Disney to lay off 28,000 workers at California, Florida theme parks
Squeezed by limits on attendance at its theme parks and other restrictions due to the pandemic, Walt Disney said Tuesday it planned to lay off 28,000 workers in its parks division in California and Florida.
Two-thirds of the planned layoffs involve part-time workers but they ranged from salaried employees to hourly workers, Disney officials said.
Disney’s parks closed last spring as the pandemic started spreading in the US. The Florida parks reopened this summer, but the California parks have yet to reopen as the company awaits guidance from the state of California.
In a letter to employees, Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney Parks, Experience and Product, said California’s “unwillingness to lift restrictions that would allow Disneyland to reopen” exacerbated the situation for the company.
D’Amaro said his management team had worked hard to try to avoid layoffs. They had cut expenses, suspended projects and modified operations but it wasn’t enough given limits on the number of people allowed into the park because of social distancing restrictions and other pandemic-related measures, he said.
“As heartbreaking as it is to take this action, this is the only feasible option we have in light of the prolonged impact of COVID-19 on our business, including limited capacity due to physical distancing requirements and the continued uncertainty regarding the duration of the pandemic,” he said.
California’s health secretary on Tuesday said the state was close to working out a way to have the theme parks reopen in a responsible way.
“We know that a number of Californians are eager and wondering when that is coming, and we’re working with those industries to put out something that’s thoughtful, allows us to maintain the rest of our framework in a strong way, and really following those principles of slow and stringent to ensure those large activities are done responsibly,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of California Health and Human Services.
Disney officials said the company would provide severance packages for the employees, where appropriate, and also offer other services to help workers with job placement.
Officials with the union that represents the actors who play Disney characters at the theme parks said they were having conversations with Disney officials about how they would be impacted, according to Actors’ Equity Association.
Officials with the Service Trades Council Union, which represents 43,000 workers at Disney World in Florida, said they were having similar conversations.
“We were disappointed to learn that the COVID-19 crisis has led Disney to make the decision to layoff Cast Members,” the coalition of six unions said in a statement.
About 950 workers from Unite Here Local 11 in California will be laid off starting Nov. 1, union leaders said.
Disney officials didn’t offer a breakdown of the layoffs between the Florida and California operations. Walt Disney World in Florida has around 77,000 employees, while the Disneyland Resort in California has more than 30,000 workers.
With its parks closed due to the pandemic in April, Disney furloughed up to 43,000 workers while still paying for their health insurance at its Florida resort. It brought many of them back after it reopened in July. Furloughed workers in California also received health benefits.
In a statement, US Rep. Val Demings, a Democrat from Orlando, said the layoffs showed the need for more coronavirus-related relief from Congress.
“These layoffs show yet again how desperately that assistance is needed by American households and businesses,” Demings said.
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