For billionaire fund manager Bill Ackman, it wasn’t enough to just own a few high-end Bremont watches. He actually wanted a piece of the company.
To that end, Britain-based Bremont watches announced today that Bill Ackman took a “substantial minority interest” in the company, joining a funding round with longtime investor Hellcat LP worth $59 million (£48 million).
Bremont, founded by brothers Nick and Giles English, was founded in 2002 with the vision of returning watchmaking to British shores. Bremont just opened a 35,000-square foot facility outside of London, and is looking to expand the brand’s footprint globally. Bremont operates in the luxury watch segment, with prices starting around $3,500 for entry-level models and limited-edition timepieces fetching as much as $25,000.
“I have long admired Bremont’s handsomely-designed, technologically-sophisticated and rugged watches, and the brand’s storied aviation and military history,” Ackman said in a statement. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to become a shareholder of Bremont at a fulcrum point in the Company’s evolution, and to see it take its rightful position as a global leader in watchmaking.”
Ackman reportedly reached out to the Bremont and the English brothers after purchasing several watches from Bremont’s boutique in Mayfair.
“I wrote a handwritten note to the founders saying, ‘I admire your company, I love watches and I would love to learn more’,” Ackman told the Financial Times.
Ackman, who founded hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management, told the FT that he has invested in the company as an individual, and not through his hedge fund. For Ackman, it seems the investment is more of a personal statement on his conviction for the brand and its prospects.
“There is a benefit to having us invest versus private equity or a sale,” Ackman said. “Bremont has a very long mandate and we can be a forever investor.” It seems the famously sharp-elbowed investor is saying he won’t put the screws to Bremont management if returns aren’t as rosy in the near term.
Ackman, of course, isn’t fond of losing money; he believes Bremont could end up as valuable as Swiss giant Breitling, another aviation-themed watchmaker that was valued at $4.5 billion when Partner Group purchased a majority stake in it from fellow PE firm CVC Capital Partners.
And Ackman isn’t one to shy away from promoting causes or businesses he believes in, or at least talking his book, if today’s tweet is any indication: