CVC Considers Sale of Stake in Luxury Watchmaker Breitling
(Bloomberg) -- CVC Capital Partners is considering the sale of a stake in Swiss luxury watchmaker Breitling SA after receiving interest from potential investors, people with knowledge of the matter said.
The private equity firm is working with advisers at Rothschild & Co. and GCA Altium as it weighs the potential sale of a significant minority holding in Breitling, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. It plans to keep control of the business in any deal to benefit from future growth, the people said.
CVC isn’t planning to sell any Breitling stake to another buyout firm and is seeking a long-term partner for the business, the people said. Deliberations are at an early stage, and there’s no certainty they will lead to a transaction, the people said.
Representatives for CVC and Rothschild declined to comment, while a spokesperson for GCA Altium didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The company, known for its aviation-themed timepieces, traces its roots back to the work of watchmaker Leon Breitling in 1884. It’s one of the larger Swiss watch brands that’s still independent, while most others have been acquired by competitors such as Swatch Group AG, Richemont, LVMH and Kering SA.
CVC bought a majority stake in Breitling in a 2017 deal valued at more than 800 million euros ($952 million), Bloomberg News reported at the time. Since then, it’s simplified Breitling’s product range, expanded sales in Asia and pushed to make the watches more appealing to female customers.
The private equity firm also owns other consumer brands. It invested earlier this year in A Bathing Ape, the streetwear label started by Japanese hip hop artist Nigo.
Pent-up demand for luxury goods and extra cash are driving consumers back to brick-and-mortar stores as vaccination campaigns advance. Swiss watch exports have recently returned to pre-pandemic levels, boosted by demand in China and the U.S., according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry. Shipments rose to 2.05 billion francs ($2.2 billion) in July, up 7.6% from the same month in 2019.
Swatch, the maker of Omega and Blancpain watches, will probably open more stores than it closes in the second half as the outlook improves, Chief Executive Officer Nick Hayek said in a July interview. Growth at the company’s own shops recovered quickly as soon as they reopened, he said.
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