Mining billionaire Andrew Forrest buys Aussie bootmaker RM Williams from L Catterton

Australian mining billionaire Andrew Forrest said his private company bought bootmaker RM Williams from a fund backed by French fashion giant LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE, returning ownership of the famed fashion label to its home country after six years.

In a statement, the Fortescue Metals Group Ltd founder and major shareholder said he was “incredibly proud and humbled” to bring back the manufacturing icon which had “a long and proud history of high-quality Australian craftsmanship”.

Forrest did not disclose a price but the Australian Financial Review reported it was about A$190 million ($135 million). That would represent a mark-down from the roughly A$500 million that local media reported was RM Williams’s valuation when LVMH-backed private equity firm L Catterton put the asset up for sale in 2019.

When L Catterton took over RM Williams in 2014, the Outback-themed company was valued at about A$104 million. A representative for the unit of the French fashion giant declined to comment on Monday.

Fashion retailers around the world have experienced a sharp decline in sales since the COVID-19 outbreak prompted border closures and stay-home orders as governments attempted to slow the spread of the virus.

For 88-year-old RM Williams, which has 900 staff in Australia, that meant temporarily closing its Adelaide factory. It has since reopened most of its 68 retail outlets which are largely on the country’s east coast.

Australian swimsuit maker Seafolly Pty Ltd, also backed by LVMH, appointed administrators in June, citing a sales downturn from the coronavirus.

Reuters

Singapore Reporter/s

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Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.