Well-known investor Bill Ackman has purchased a significant minority stake in U.K. watchmaker Bremont—because, he says, he liked its watches.
Ackman told Financial Times that after he bought a Bremont watch in London, he sent “a handwritten note to the founders saying, ‘I admire your company, I love watches and I would love to learn more.’ ”
The investment is on Ackman’s behalf, rather than his primary investment vehicle, Pershing Square Capital Management.
Ackman’s investment is part of a 48.4 million pound ($59.87 million) funding round for Bremont, which includes a new cash infusion from its lead investor, Hellcat LP.
Hellcat is an investment vehicle composed of individuals and investors who have been shareholders of Bremont for more than eight years.
Ackman told FT that he believes Bremont—one of the few U.K.-based watchmakers—can reach the scale of Breitling, which has been owned by private equity since 2017 and is reportedly eyeing an IPO.
Bremont was cofounded by brothers Giles and Nick English. Chris Reynolds, who had been serving as managing director, will now become its chief operating officer as the company searches for a CEO.
“Nick and I are thrilled that Bill has moved from collector to investor,” said Giles English in a statement. “This new capital will enable us to invest in marketing, distribution, and talent. This is not just a boost for Bremont, but also for Britain.”
After opening a 35,000-square-foot production facility in Henley-on-Thames in 2020, Bremont became the first business in over 50 years to manufacture mechanical movements at scale on British shores.
Ackman and Pershing have not had much exposure to the jewelry or watch business, though, as a member of the J.C. Penney board, Ackman pushed for Apple exec Ron Johnson to take over as the retailer’s CEO. Ackman ended up resigning shortly after Johnson did.
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