• 2009-05-17

    Japanese department store group to buy state in Tiffany - [shopping]


    Mitsukoshi Ltd., a leading Japanese department store group, has agreed to purchase 1.5 million shares, or approximately 10 percent, of Tiffany & co. common stock from General Electric Capital Corp., Tiffany said Thursday. Upon completion of the purchase, Mitsukoshi, the principal distributor for Tiffany in Japan, will hold approximately 13 percent of the common stock of the prestigious jewelry merchandiser. By agreement with Tiffany, Mitsukoshi's holdings may not exceed 19.99 percent of tiffanys issued and outstanding shares, Tiffany Chairman William R. Chaney said in a statement. General Electric, the financial services subsidiary of General Electric Co., acquired its Tiffany shares in connection with the financing of the management-led purchase of Tiffany from Avon Products Inc. in 1984. General Electric will retain 750,000 of the 2,250,000 shares it now holds. The transaciton is expected to be completed by the end of January, with at least 500,000 shares changing hands this month, Tiffany said. Mitsukoshi currently purchases Tiffany products, principally jewelry and watches, for resale in Japan, Hong Kong and Hawaii, where it operates Tiffany boutiques in its stores and hotels. In the fiscal year ended Jan. 31, Mitsukoshi bought approximately $26 million of Tiffany merchandise. In that fiscal year, tiffanys worldwide net sales topped $290 million. Mitsukoshi operates 19 department stores in Japan and also has interests in mail order, interior design and contracting, travel and restaurant businesses. The company had sales of $5.6 billion in the fiscal year ended Feb. 28. Tiffany operates its flagship Fifth Avenue store in New York as well as retail stores in several U.S. cities. Its sells fine jewelry, sterling silverware, china, crystal, watches, clocks, stationery, leather goods, scarves and fragrances, among other luxury items.