Reuters is reporting that luxury conglomerate Kering (previously known as PPR) is looking to buy control of watchmaker Richard Mille. The news agency is quoting an industry source who they say has first-hand knowledge of the matter.
According to Reuters, the Richard Mille brand has been valued at CHF$340-400 million, which is several times more than the company earned in its annual revenue. Although Kering controls several prestigious fashion houses (including Gucci, Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen), it owns only two watch manufactures, Girard-Perregaux and Jeanrichard. This puts Kering a step behind its rival conglomerates LVMH (which owns TAG Heuer, Zenith, Hublot and Bulgari), Richemont (which owns A. Lange & Söhne, Baume & Mercier, Cartier, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Montblanc, Officine Panerai, Piaget, Ralph Lauren Watches, Roger Dubuis, Vacheron Constantin and Van Cleef & Arpels) and the Swatch Group (which owns Breguet, Harry Winston, Blancpain, Glashütte Original, Jaquet Droz, Omega, Tiffany & Co. and Longines).
“The talks are ongoing…the ball is in Mille’s camp,” Reuters quote their source as saying. Kering would reportedly acquire 51 percent of Richard Mille with the possibility of raising its stake further, while company founder Richard Mille would remain on as chief executive. According to Reuters’ source, independent manufacture Audemars Piguet, which helped Mille found his manufacture in 2001 and owns a 10 percent stake, would also remain a part of the equation. If the transaction is successful, sources estimate we will see the news hit headlines around early 2014.
Both Richard Mille and Kering declined to comment on the Reuters story.
Pictured above is Richard Mille’s 3,000 m2 factory in Les Breuleux, Switzerland.