DKSH's Sale of Maurice Lacroix Delayed by Watch Sector's Gloom

Finding buyers for fine Swiss timepieces has become harder. Finding a buyer for an entire watch brand has, too.

Switzerland’s DKSH Holding AG said the planned sale of its Maurice Lacroix business is taking longer than anticipated as the market lacks potential purchasers.

“It’s everything but a seller’s market,” Chief Executive Officer Joerg Wolfgang Wolle told reporters in Zurich after the company reported full-year earnings. “The process of selling is going very slowly," he said, declining to comment on the timing of a possible deal.

Financial investors, family-owned businesses and competitors have been approached to take over Maurice Lacroix, which delivers 90,000 timepieces a year and accounts for less than one percent of DKSH’s revenues. Last year’s 10 percent gain in the franc against the euro has reduced the value of revenue that Swiss watchmakers make abroad. Weak consumption in China, which accounts for a quarter of global luxury demand, has also weighed on European luxury-goods stocks.

DKSH reported earnings before interest and tax for the full year that fell 0.9 percent to 270.2 million francs ($271.3 million), beating an estimate of 267 million francs from 10 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. The stock gained as much as 3.2 percent and was 1.2 percent higher at 62.25 francs by 3:45 pm.

Swatch Group AG, the world’s biggest watchmaker, last week reported its first sales decline in six years, hurt by a drop in Hong Kong demand, as Cie Financiere Richemont, the maker of Cartier jewelry and IWC Schaffhausen timepieces, reported its first decline in Christmas revenue since 2008.