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Breitling owners sell 80% stake in watchmaking firm to private equity company

The family owners of luxury Swiss watchmaker Breitling have sold a significant stake in the company to private equity giant CVC Capital.

Europe's largest private equity group has snapped up an 80% slice of the firm, whose watches are worn by the likes of Hollywood star John Travolta.

The move will see Theodore Schneider - the son of Ernest Schneider who bought the company in 1979 - take a 20% stake as part of the deal.

Mr Schneider, who took the helm from his father in the 1990s, said he was "convinced" CVC could "elevate Breitling to the next level".

"CVC's expertise, track record and international network will help unlock Breitling's full potential," he added.

Breitling, which was founded by Leon Breitling in 1884, employs around 900 people at its two manufacturing sites and headquarters in Switzerland.

Swiss watchmakers such as Breitling have seen sales come under pressure as they grapple with a slowdown across China and Hong Kong.

Daniel Pindur, CVC's senior managing director, said the luxury brand had "significant growth potential".

"Using our network and expertise, CVC will work to make this global, iconic brand even more renowned and help shape the future of one of Switzerland's last independent watch manufacturers," he added.

"Specifically, we see significant growth potential for Breitling in both existing and new geographies by driving the digitisation of the marketing and distribution channels in the company, helping to enrich the product and customer experience."

Speculation had been mounting over Breitling's future following the death of Ernest Schneider in May 2015.

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