Fenway achieves partial exit of Harry Winston

Canadian diamond miner Aber Diamond spends $85m for a 51 percent stake in the Hope Diamond’s original owner.

Fenway Partners has realised a partial return on its Harry Winston investment with the 51 percent stake bought by Aber Diamond for $85 million (€70 million).

 

The New York private equity firm originally invested in the high-end jewelry retailer in December 2000, giving Fenway a slightly more than 60 percent controlling stake in Harry Winston.

 

With the sale, chairman and chief executive officer Peter Lamm said the firm will return about 75 percent of their approximately $63 million original investment back to investors from their $909 million Fund II, closed in 1999. Fenway will retain an approximate 30 percent interest in the company, with the rest held by company management.

 

Harry Winston is the inventor of modern couture jewelry, and is known for being the “King of Diamonds” and “Jeweler to the Stars,” as well as for donating the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian Institute. Ronald Winston, the company’s other major shareholder alongside Fenway, will continue as chairman with a new CEO already selected.

 

According to Lamm, the purchase will allow Aber, a diamond miner and marketer, to provide a diamond pipeline that stretches from beginning to end. He said Fenway will continue to invest in Harry Winston as appropriate to increase the company’s product reach and eventually provide a successful complete return for his firm.

Fenway Partners manages more than $1.4 billion in funds. Last year, it sold mattress company Simmons to Thomas H. Lee Partners in a deal worth approximately $1.1 billion, after buying the company for $513 million in 1998.