NO LONGER INDEPENDENT. Breitling, one of the last family-owned watchmakers from Switzerland has been sold to the biggest private equity firm in Europe, CVC Capital Partners
Rumors have circulated since late last year that Breitling was up for sale, and it has finally been confirmed that the family-owned company has been purchased by CVC Capital Partners. CVC Capital Partners has acquired 80 percent of the company’s stake while the current CEO and majority holder Theodore Schneider will re-invest into the company to hold on to the remaining 20-percent stake. According to a report from Bloomberg, the watch company famous for its pilot-themed chronographs was valued at around $874.6 million, but CVC has paid twice that to close the deal.
Despite sales figures for the prestigious brand’s timepieces raising last year, totaling approximately $424 million, it was not enough to cover its loses as Breitling‘s sales had plummeted since the 2008 crash. With the export of Swiss watches rising for the first time in 21 months, thanks to large shipments to Hong Kong, it is highly likely that CVC will focus most of its efforts for increasing Breitling’s sales in the Chinese market. It remains to be seen whether this will effect plans for the development of new watches by Breitling.
The Swiss watch industry has seen several brands up for sale in recent years as the industry struggles with the slumping demand in Asia and the surge of the Swiss Franc. This isn’t the first time the watch brand has changed ownership, being first purchased by Theodore Schneider’s father Ernst, from the original Breitling family in 1979.