CVC Capital Partners to buy controlling stake in Swiss watchmaker Breitling

European private equity firm CVC Capital Partners yesterday struck a deal to buy a controlling 80-per cent stake in family-owned Swiss luxury watchmaker Breitling SA.

Financial terms of the deal were not revealed, but Bloomberg said that the deal is valued at more than €800 million ($870 million).

Theodore Schneider, Breitling's current majority owner, will reinvest in exchange for a 20-per cent stake.

Breitling is not the only Swiss watchmaker that has been sold. Recently many others have been acquired by competitors, such as Swatch Group AG, Richemont, LVMH and Kering SA.

Frederique Constant and Alpina were acquired by Japan's Citizen Watch last year, while earlier, Corum and Eterna were purchased by Hong Kong-based Citychamp Watch & Jewellery Group.

Founded by Léon Breitling in 1884, Breitling specialises in manufacturing high-performance wrist chronograph watches.

The Grenchen, Switzerland-based company employs around 900 people, has two manufacturing facilities, one in Grenchen and one in La Chaux-de-Fonds.

Breitling watches are sold worldwide in exclusive boutiques and through selected retailers, and have annual sales of 420 million Swiss francs ($424 million).

Its watches are worn by celebrities like John Travolta, Russell Crowe and David Beckham.

"I am convinced CVC is the right partner to elevate Breitling to the next level," said Théodore Schneider. CVC's expertise, track-record and international network will help unlock Breitling's full potential."

"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," said, 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."