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Private equity group CVC Capital Partners has agreed a deal to take a majority stake in Swiss luxury watchmaker Breitling for an undisclosed sum.
CVC, Europe’s largest private equity group, will take an 80 per cent stake in the company, which specialises in “high-performance watches” and has a history of supplying the aeronautics industry.
Théodore Schneider, whose father Ernest bought the company from the Breitling family in 1979, will hold the remaining 20 per cent of the group.
CVC said it sees “significant growth potential” in the company, particularly through improving its digital marketing and distribution.
Mr Schneider said:
I am convinced CVC is the right partner to elevate Breitling to the next level. CVC’s expertise, track-record and international network will help unlock Breitling’s full potential.
Daniel Pindur, CVC senior managing director, said:
Using our network and expertise, CVC will work to make this global, iconic brand even more renowned and help shape the future of one of Switzerland’s last independent watch manufacturers.
The Swiss watch industry has struggled over the last few years as slowing economic growth and a crackdown on graft and ostentatious gift-giving in China hurt sales across the luxury sector.
However, there have been signs of a tentative recovery in recent months. Breitling vice-president Jean-Paul Girardin told the FT last month that the company remained “cautious” about the health of the watch market, but said “we must be confident”, and highlighted the fact that Breitling is less reliant on the Chinese market than some of its peers.
The deal is expected to be completed in June.