Harry Winston—the legendary jeweler whose name has been hailed in film, TV, and song—has been sold to watchmaking giant Swatch Group.
The price tag was $1 billion, with Winston netting $750 million, and Swatch assuming $250 million in pro forma debt.
The Harry Winston brand comprises 21 directly operated retail salons worldwide, four licensed salons, and a wholesale line of watches.
The brand’s current owner, Harry Winston Diamond Corp., which owns 40 percent of the Diavik mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories and bought the nearby Ekati mine in November, will change its name to Dominion Diamond Corp. This is the company’s third name; the miner began life as Aber Resources in 1994.
Dominian will retain an ongoing relationship with Swatch, a major buyer of polished diamonds, and the two companies will explore opportunities for a joint diamond polishing venture.
Aber owned Harry Winston since 2004, when it purchased 51 percent of the company. Two years later, it upped its ownership stake to 100 percent. The firm is generally credited with bringing stability to a brand that had been hurt by a bitter feud among the heirs of its founder.
In October, two reports appeared that Winston was about to be sold. The company denied those reports, and in December chairman Bob Gannicott told analysts that while he expected to sell the jewelry band, that wouldn’t happen for at least another year.
Ganicott said in a statement that the purchase “represents a sound return on our original investment” and “will leave us well equipped to realize upstream opportunities.”
“We are proud and happy to welcome Harry Winston to the Swatch Group family,” said Swatch Group chairwoman Nayla Hayek in a statement. “Diamonds are still a girl’s best friend.”
The transaction is subject to regulatory approval.