LVMH strikes Paris Olympic Games sponsorship deal

FILE PHOTO: LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton annual shareholders meeting in Paris

PARIS (Reuters) - Luxury giant LVMH unveiled on Monday a deal to sponsor next year's Olympic Games in Paris with top fashion brands Louis Vuitton and Dior, Moet Hennessy champagne and spirits labels and jeweller Chaumet, which will design medals for the event.

The group will also sponsor athletes, including French swimmer Leon Marchand, and its beauty retailer Sephora will sponsor the Olympic torch relay, LVMH said. The French delegation will be dressed by one of LVMH's "maisons".

Terms of the deal, which was negotiated by Antoine Arnault, one of the five children and heirs of LVMH Chairman and CEO Bernard Arnault, were not revealed.

It has been expected to cost around 150 million euros ($166 million) and involve promotions focused on the group as well as its largest fashion and champagne labels, a person close to the negotiations said in May.

"The Games are an opportunity to make France shine," Antoine Arnault said as he made the official announcement.

With the Olympics now only a year out, the late-stage negotiations between the Paris 2024 Organising Committee and the world's biggest luxury group, which is also Europe's most valuable company with a market capitalisation of more than 400 billion euros, have generated much interest in France.

On the sidelines of LVMH's annual shareholder meeting in April, Antoine Arnault anticipated the opening ceremony, which will be staged along the river Seine and not in a stadium, could be the most-watched event in the history of the Olympics.

But the partnership may also carry risks.

The run-up to an Olympic Games can become mired in global geo-politics and controversies over domestic matters can attract scrutiny, such as China's rights record ahead of the Beijing Games. A row over the participation of Russian and Belarus athletes has already cast a shadow over Paris 2024.

Closer to home, months of sometimes-violent street protests over a raising of the retirement age and a wave of nationwide rioting following the police killing of a teenager of north African descent have cast a spotlight on France's volatile social climate.

Other sponsors of the global sporting showpiece include Airbnb, Alibaba, Coca-Cola and Toyota.

($1 = 0.9028 euros)

(Reporting by Mimosa Spencer, editing by Silvia Aloisi, Tomasz Janowski, Richard Lough)