December 14, 2018

LVMH just bought some of the world's most luxurious hotels

One of the biggest luxury brands is buying some of the world's most luxurious hotels and restaurants.

France's LVMH (LVMUY), which owns iconic brands like Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Dom Pérignon, will take over the Belmond hotel group in a deal valued at $2.6 billion, it announced Friday.

The acquisition gives LVMH control of 46 hotels, restaurants and luxury trains and cruises across 24 countries. The portfolio includes the Hotel Cipriani in Venice and the 21 Club in New York, a storied Manhattan restaurant which reportedly counts President Donald Trump and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin among its regulars.

"This acquisition will significantly increase LVMH's presence in the ultimate hospitality world," LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault said in a statement. LVMH already owns some high-end properties like the Cheval Blanc and Bulgari hotel chains.

Investors in LVMH reacted with caution to the news --- the luxury group's shares fell 1.3% in Paris on Friday morning. Belmond's shares, on the other hand, soared 39% in premarket trading.

Acquiring Belmond will give the French conglomerate access to a far wider portfolio of luxury experiences, including the iconic Orient Express and Royal Scotsman trains as well as luxury cruises in France.

But the biggest attraction will likely be the Cipriani, the 96-room Venice hotel with Michelin-star restaurants that Belmond acquired 40 years ago. The hotel played a starring role in George and Amal Clooney's celebrity-filled wedding in 2014.

The deal is expected to be completed in the first half of 2019, subject to approval from shareholders and regulators.

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