Buyout firm Catterton acquires Bali-inspired jeweller John Hardy

PARIS, July 31 Thu Jul 31, 2014 12:57pm EDT

PARIS, July 31 (Reuters) - U.S. private equity firm Catterton Partners has acquired Bali-inspired jeweller John Hardy for an undisclosed sum, closing a transaction that took months to negotiate.

The deal, which Reuters first reported in May, highlights growing investor interest in a sector outpacing the broader luxury industry thanks in part to financially independent Asian women.

While luxury watchmakers are struggling with a crackdown in China on gift-giving to officials and several fashion and accessories brands point to slowing growth in a range of emerging markets, jewellers are proving more resilient.

John Hardy, a rival of jewellers in the United States such as David Yurman, sells Asia-themed wares such as $225 silver dragon earrings as well as men's jewellery, a fast-growing market, with beads and sailing cord bracelets.

The company is headquartered in Hong Kong, its products are designed in Bali but the bulk of revenue is generated in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. The brand just signed supermodel Cara Delevingne to be the face of its new campaign.

As part of the transaction, Catterton acquired a 22.4 percent stake held by British private equity firm 3i.

Total proceeds to 3i including the stake, preferred shares and dividend repayments will be around 26 million pounds, with a further 2 million in anticipated deferred consideration, 3i said in a separate statement.

The overall terms of deal were not disclosed but sources close to John Hardy had given the jewellery an enterprise value - equity plus debt - of between $100 and $120 million.

Damien Dernoncourt, who was chief executive of John Hardy and its controlling shareholder, will become non-executive chairman and retain a stake in the company, Catterton said.

He will be replaced by Robert Hanson, former CEO of American Eagle Outfitters and former global president of Levi's.

"We are confident that John Hardy offers substantial upside through multiple paths for expansion, and look forward to working with Robert and the entire team at John Hardy to capitalize on new market opportunities and realize the company's significant potential," Michael Chu, managing partner at Catterton, said.

Catterton also owns around 22 percent of Paris-listed crystals specialist Baccarat since 2012 and acts in concert with investment firm Starwood Capital which controls the company.

John Hardy was advised by investment bank Rothschild. (Reporting by Astrid Wendlandt; Editing by Mark Potter)

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