CVC Capital Partners, a London-based private equity group, has bought Breitling.
The terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but Bloomberg quotes unnamed insiders putting the value of the sale at around 800 million euros.
CVC, which is the largest private equity investment firm in Europe, will take an 80% stake in Breitling.
Breitling’s CEO Théodore Schneider will retain the remaining 20% of the group.
“I am convinced CVC is the right partner to elevate Breitling to the next level,” said Mr Schneider. “CVC’s expertise, track-record and international network will help unlock Breitling’s full potential.”
Alexander Dibelius, managing partner and head of Germany at CVC, added: “Breitling has a proud heritage, high brand awareness, and enjoys an excellent reputation as one of the finest watchmakers in the world. We very much look forward to working with Théodore Schneider as we embark on Breitling’s next chapter of growth.”
“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,” added Daniel Pindur, Senior Managing Director at CVC. “Specifically, we see significant growth potential for Breitling in both existing and new geographies by driving the digitization of the marketing and distribution channels in the company, helping to enrich the product and customer experience.”
The acquisition has been announced in the same week that Swiss watchmakers announced the first month of year-on-year growth in exports for almost two years.
Breitling also had one of its best years in 2016 with sales reaching around CHF 400 million, up from CHF 370 million in 2014 and 2015.
At Baselworld, Breitling showed a willingness to protect profits in an era of sluggish global sales for luxury watches. Its key launch of the show, the Superocean Heritage Divers’ watch, uses a modified movement from Tudor instead developing its own movement from scratch.