Ulysse Nardin Lady DiverIn a very interesting shake-up in the world of watches, French multinational group Kering, which also owns Boucheron, Dodo, Girard-Perregaux, JeanRichard, Pomellato and Qeelin, has bought Ulysse Nardin. Kering has had a bit of a spending spree in the last two year – Pomellato, Dodo and Qeelin were all recent purchases and it was rumoured to have been sniffing round Richard Mille last year but to no avail – and now it has added this watch brand to its recently formed Luxury – Watches and Jewellery division, which is headed up by Albert Bensoussan, who was at LVMH for 16 years previously.

As Ulysse Nardin is a private company – it was relaunched in 1983 by Rolf W Schnyder, who was succeeded by his wife Chai Schnyder and CEO Patrick Hoffman after his sudden death in 2011 – the company was at liberty to decline to give an acquisition price but, according to Forbes, Jean-Marc Duplaix, Kering’s CFO and Jean-Francois Palus, Kering’s managing director said that it paid 13 times Ulysse Nardin’s 2013 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation.

As the company doesn’t reveal annual sales or how many pieces it makes each year, this figure is up for speculation.

The idea is that Ulysse Nardin will form the backbone of the company’s burgeoning watch business and that being part of the Kering stable will allow it to expand more quickly into Asia.

Based in Le Locle, Switzerland, Ulysse Nardin is well known for its ultra-complicated timepieces that showcase cutting edge technologies and state-of-the-art materials. It also has its own production capacity for watch components, including regulating systems.

As there have been some cross-pollinisations among the Kering and Sowind watch brands in the last couple of years – Gucci’s Dive XL has a Girard-Perregaux movement in it as do Boucheron’s watches – it will be interesting to see which brands also benefit from this acquisition, but we’ll probably have to wait until BaselWorld 2016 to find that out.

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