Breitling sold to CVC Capital Partners

Breitling Colt Skyracer. Introduced in 2017 at BaselWorld, this is what the brand terms “the new generation Breitling”. It features a SuperQuartz movement which chronometer-certified by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute and is said to be 10 times more accurate than the regular quartz movement. The Colt Skyracer is specifically targeted at the “Millennials”, so we were told. Photo: © TANG Portfolio / TimeWerke. Elfa / Timmy. BaselWorld 2017.

Private equity and investment advisory firm CVC Capital Partners, via its CVC Capital Fund VI, has agreed to take up a majority stake stake in Breitling SA owned by the Schneider family.

In the Friday, 28 April 2017 press release, CVC Capital Partners announced that it will acquire an 80% stake in Breitling while Théodore Schneider, who is the owner of Breitling, will “re-invest” and take up a 20% shareholding in the company.

The deal reportedly values Breitling SA at more than 800 million euros or more than USD870 million (SGD1.2 billion), according to Bloomberg News, which added that CVC Capital Partners is acquiring Breitling at 2 times its 12-month trailing sales which is a discount to Swatch Group AG’s 2.7 times and Richemont’s 3.8 times.

Breitling, founded by Léon Breitling in 1884, floundered in the 1970s. In 1978, the company suspended its operations. It was then sold to Ernest Schneider (1921 to 2015) in 1979 by Willy Breitling (1913 to 1979), grandson of Léon Breitling.

Ernest Schneider had gained much experience in the watch industry as he was managing the Sicura watchmaking company. His vision not only led him to breathe new life into Breitling but to acquire Kelek, a watch Manufacture producing complications based in La Chaux-de-Fonds, as well. Kelek was subsequently integrated into Breitling.

Ernest Schneider’s son, Théodore, took over the helm of Breitling and is currently the CEO of the company.

Breitling, famed for its chronographs and Navitimer watches, operates two manufacturing facilities: one is in Grenchen where Breitling is headquartered and the other is in La Chaux-de-Fonds. Breitling has a staff strength of approximately 900.

Théodore Schneider said that CVC Capital Partners is the right partner to elevate Breitling to the next level.

The sale of Breitling is expected to be completed in June 2017.

Breitling is embarking on a new flight path with a fresh crew onboard. It will be interesting to discover how high the company will fly under the new controlling shareholders over the next few years. As noted by the report in Bloomberg, the average private equity holding period is five years.

Another Breitling-related article on is:
i. Georges Kern: Breitling’s new “Wing Commander”