Zurich - Swatch Group said on Monday it was buying watch and jewellery brand Harry Winston and its 535 employees for $750m, plus up to $250m of net debt, to boost its high-end watch portfolio.
"Harry Winston does brilliantly complement the prestige segment of the Group. We are proud and happy to welcome Harry Winston to the Swatch Group family - diamonds are still a girl's best friend," Chairwoman Nayla Hayek said in a statement.
The move comes as watchmakers compete to snap up watchmaking know how and production facilities and is Swatch Group's first big takeover in years.
The world's biggest watchmaker, which already owns high-end brands Breguet, Blancpain and Jaquet Droz, acquired several component makers over the last years, but its last buy of a watch brand was more than a decade ago.
Swatch Group said the transaction did not include the mining activities of Harry Winston Diamond Corp.
"The Harry Winston brand now has a new home that can provide the skills and support that it deserves to realize its true potential," said Robert A. Gannicott, chairman of the board and chief executive of Harry Winston Diamond Corp.
The transaction is subject to the approval of regulatory authorities.
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