Private equity firm eyes Watches of Switzerland

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Aurum Holdings – owner of Watches of Switzerland – could be sold to US private equity firm Apollo Global Management, after rumours that the two companies have been in talks for several months.

The sale of Aurum, which also owns Goldsmiths and Mappin & Webb, could sit anywhere between £175m and £180m, a slight decrease in the initial valuations of the company, which sat at about £200m.

It has been suggested that a deal may be struck as soon as this week, though sources have said that the acquisition might be held off until after the Christmas period, when Aurum’s stores will have their busiest sales period of the year.

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To date, both LVMH and the owner of Harvey Nichols, Dickson Poon, have been named as parties interested in purchasing Aurum. At present it is majority owned by Iceland bank Landsbanki, with a minority stake owned by its chairman Don McCarthy.

In an interview with WatchPro‘s sister magazine Professional Jeweller in September last year, chief executive Justin Stead said that Aurum planned to take its time in picking a new owner as that owner would have to agree to the business strategies already put in place by the retail group.

He added: “We have had tremendous interest in the business from both international and UK trade and private equity. We are working through the interest and getting close to the groups and making an appropriate decision. We are not in any rush. We want to pick the absolutely perfect partner and get maximum value for our shareholders, who have been fantastic.”

Both Aurum and Apollo have today declined to comment on the talks.

 

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