Partners Group Buys Into Swiss Luxury Watchmaker Breitling

Private equity firm Partners Group purchased a minority stake in the watchmaker, and will take a seat on Breitling’s board of directors.

Oct 27, 2021 | By Ashok Soman
Breitling Classic Cars Capsule Collection
Image: Breitling

Private equity firm Partners Group has bought a significant minority stake in watchmaker Breitling, according to news reports and a press release from Partners.

The press release, on the Partners Group website, notes that the stake was purchased from CVC Capital Partners Fund IV and management, which currently owns the majority stake in Breitling, as we reported on years ago. No financial terms were disclosed, but Bloomberg reported recently that Partners Group was looking to buy a 25 per cent stake; private equity typically requires a seat on the board when it makes such investments. 

No changes in direction were announced, nor changes in senior personnel, but Partners Group will indeed be taking a seat on the Breitling board of directors. Alfred Gantner, Co-Founder, and Executive Member of the Board of Directors, Partners Group, will be taking this seat. Current Breitling CEO Georges Kern — himself a stakeholder — sounded a positive note that Partners Group getting into watchmaking action.

“We are delighted to welcome Partners Group as an investor, and Alfred Gantner as a Board member. With CVC and Partners Group we have a strong alliance to accomplish our ambitious targets to realize our immense potential to become one of the undisputed leaders in the Swiss Watch Industry,” said Kern.

“Breitling is an iconic Swiss brand whose watches are instantly recognisable around the world for their quality and style,” said Gantner. “Under the leadership of Georges Kern, the Company has enjoyed significant growth in recent years, and we believe it has significant potential to capture a wider audience of consumers globally. We wholeheartedly look forward to working with Georges and the CVC team to realize this next stage of growth for Breitling.”

 “We are proud of the fantastic progress Breitling has made since we invested in 2017,” said Daniel Pindur, Partner, CVC Capital Partners. “Working in close partnership with Georges and his team, we have been able to significantly accelerate Breitling’s growth, through a repositioned brand, a rejuvenated product offering and a continued digitization of the business. We are very pleased to be bringing Partners Group on board and look forward to working closely with them to continue to grow this iconic business further and ultimately target an IPO in a few years’ time.”

The IPO speculation has been ongoing since CVC first bought its stake in Breitling in 2017; that deal was valued at more than US$928 million. Breitling remains one of the top independent Swiss watchmaking brands, and is also one of the most successful watchmaking firms overall.

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