Swiss luxury goods giant buys Mannesmann's watch division

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ZUG/Switzerland--Swiss luxury goods company Compagnie Financiere Richemont has acquired Vodafone-Mannesmann's Les Manufactures Horlogeres luxury watch unit for $1.7 billion, beating off France's LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton and Italy's Gucci, among other potential bidders.

The unit comprises luxury watch brands held by LMH (holding) Jaeger-LeCoultre (60%), IWC and A.Lange & Soehne (90%).

Richemont also acquired 40% of luxury watch group Jaeger-LeCoultre from Audemars Piquet. Walter Lange, great grandson of founder A. Lange & S"hne keeps his 10% share of this company.

The acquisitions raise Richemont's share of the luxury watch market from 22% to 30%. Richemont ranks No 2. in the world, after Rolex with 40%.

Copyright July 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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