The world’s largest watchmaking group has acquired the famed Harry Winston luxury diamond jewelry and timepiece retail business for about $1 billion. Thus, Swatch Group will pay Harry Winston Diamond Corp. (HWD) $750 million, plus their assumption of up to $250 million in debt. The agreement does not include the Canadian-based diamond mining activities of HWD.
By acquiring 100 percent of theU.S.company HW Holdings’ shares, The Swatch Group took over the brand and all activities related to jewelry and watches, including 535 employees worldwide and the production company inGeneva. This means that Harry Winston joined 18 renowned brands, such as Breguet, Blancpain, Glashütte Original, Jaquet Droz, Léon Hatot, Omega, Longines, Rado, Tissot and others, which are all members of the giantBiel-based company active in the manufacture and sale of finished watches, jewelry, watch movements and components. Off course, Harry Winston will be a part of the company’s Prestige and Luxury range.
“We are proud and happy to welcome Harry Winston to the Swatch Group family – diamonds are still a girl’s best friend”, said Chairwoman of the Swatch Group Ltd., Nayla Hayek, alluding to the famous song in which Marilyn Monroe mentions Harry Winston’s jewelry. Commenting the decision to sell the luxury retail operation, Harry Winston’s chairman and CEO, Robert Gannicott marked changes in both, luxury retail and the diamond markets, as well as the need for cash, as the key factors. “The Harry Winston brand now has a new home that can provide the skills and support that it deserves to realize its true potential”, said Gannicott.
The billion dollars worth transaction does not include the Canadian-based diamond mining activities of Harry Winston Diamond Corp. which will in future operate under the name Dominion Diamond Corporation. It has a 40 percent ownership interest in the Diavik diamond mine inCanada’sNorthwest Territories(Rio Tinto Ltd. owns 60 percents). Besides, the company is close to finalize purchasing of BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP)’s Ekati mine inCanadaand its marketing operations.
As it is announced, it is possible that Swatch Group and Dominion Diamond Corporation create a diamond- polishing joint venture. In addition, Swatch, which is one of the world’s largest buyers of polished diamonds, will buy stones from Dominion.