Sep 11, 2008
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Swatch open to buying European retailer-paper

Sep 11, 2008

ZURICH (Reuters) - Swatch Group would consider buying a well managed retailer in Europe, the Chairman of the world's largest watchmaker was quoted as saying on Thursday, but he ruled out a takeover of Junghans or investing in Peace Mark.

Montre Classique Grande Complication de Breguet, marque de Swatch Group

"If a well managed retailer was up for sale in Europe, I would go for it immediately. But this is not the case at the moment. Europe is one of the most interesting markets in the world," Nicolas Hayek said in an interview with German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

Hayek said he would not be interested in buying Junghans, a subsidiary of Hong Kong's Egana Goldpfeil and that he would also not invest in Hong Kong watch retailer Peace Mark , which sells watches for brands including Rolex, Omega, Rado and Tissot.

Accounting firm Ferrier Hodgson said on Thursday it had been appointed liquidator for Peace Mark nearly a month after the firm suspended its shares and sought a "white knight" suitor to shore up its balance sheet.

Peace Mark said on Sept 3 it could not meet the demands of banks to repay HK$1.22 billion dollars ($156.4 million) in debt.

Hayek said the group did not want to buy more brands, but would enter talks if a "truly valuable brand was in difficulties and turned to (Swatch Group) for help."

Hayek also said demand in the United States remained strong despite the economic slowdown there. "We have a few brands there with 30 percent growth, despite the weak dollar," he said.

(Reporting by Katie Reid; editing by Rory Channing)

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