Swatch Group looks to acquire component makers

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Group looks to take over companies that ‘deserve better management’.

Swatch Group, the world’s largest watchmaker, is looking to acquire component makers to help achieve annual sales of CHF 10bn within four years.

Swatch, the maker of Omega watches may spend between CHF 250-300 million francs to increase capacity, and CHF 150 million on distribution, said chief executive Nick Hayek.

“There are some companies around that would deserve better management, and if we would take them over, it would be added value for these companies and their shareholders,” added Hayek. He declined to identify potential candidates and said he has no definite acquisition plans.

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The group has reported a 42 percent gain in full-year profit, more than analysts had estimated, led by an increase in sales in Asia. Swatch Group’s board will discuss the possibility of a share buyback, Hayek said, declining to say whether he expects the company to do one.

“The Swatch Group has a fantastic portfolio of brands", added Hayek, who is not looking to add to the number of brands curently owned by the group.

Swatch Group last month said gross revenue rose 19 percent to CHF 6.44 billion in 2010, led by demand for luxury brands in Asia, central Europe and the Middle East. Asia accounted for more than half of Switzerland’s watch exports last year, and Hong Kong was the largest single market for the industry, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry said last week.

The outlook for 2011 is “positive despite the unfavorable currency constellation at present,” Swatch Group said.

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