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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Swatch Group Finalizes $1 Billion Acquisition of Harry Winston

The Harry Winston Salon in Harrods London department store.

The world-renowned Harry Winston luxury brand is now under new ownership. The Swatch Group Ltd. said late Tuesday that it has successfully completed the acquisition of the jewelry and timepiece retailer.

Swatch and Harry Winston Diamond Corp.,  now the prior owner of the brand, announced in January that the Harry Winston luxury retail division was being sold for $750 million plus the assumption of up to $250 million of pro forma net debt.

In addition to being a luxury jeweler and timepiece company, Harry Winston Diamond Corp. operates as a diamond mining business with a 40 percent ownership interest in the Diavik Diamond Mine. It is finalizing the purchase of the Ekati Diamond Mine, including its diamond sorting and sales facilities. Both mines are in the Northwest Territories of Canada.

Following the transaction, the company now is solely a diamond company and operates under the new name, Dominion Diamond Corp., while Swatch Group retains the Harry Winston brand name.

The U.S.-based luxury retail business was bought by the Canadian diamond mining group, Aber Corp., in 2006 to create the Harry Winston Diamond Corp., with divisions in luxury retail and diamond mining. It was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2007.

The brand’s namesake (Harry Winston, March 1, 1896 – December 28, 1978) founded the luxury retail company in 1932. He was among the most famous jewelers in the world and the first jeweler to lend jewels to an actress for the Oscars red carpet in 1944. He was also famous for donating the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.

The luxury diamond jeweler and timepiece retailer has salons in key locations—including New York, Paris, London, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and Beverly Hills.

The Swatch Group, based in Biel, Switzerland, is the world’s leading supplier of finished watches and watch movements and one of the world’s largest buyers of polished diamonds. The two companies previously said that they will explore the opportunities for a joint diamond polishing venture bringing together the manufacturing and diamond expertise of the two companies.

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