Clearlake Capital Group Acquires Swiss Watch International
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Clearlake Capital Group Acquires Swiss Watch International

Clearlake Capital Group has acquired Swiss Watch International, an online retailer of watches, accessories and apparel, from the Ben-Shmuel family.

Swiss Watch International (SWI) is an online retailer and multi-channel distributor of watches, accessories and apparel.  The company has a portfolio of owned watch brands which include Swiss Legend, Lucien Piccard and Red Line.  SWI also sells non-owned brands of watches including Invicta, Elini, Glam Rock, and Kenneth Jay Lane. SWI operates the following websites www.WorldofWatches.com, www.eWatches.com, www.TheWatchery.com, and www.SmartBargains.com.  SWI is also a supplier to many of the largest online retailers, marketplaces, streaming video/social commerce channels, private sales sites, daily deal sites, and other channels, which according to Clearlake, makes SWI a scalable e-commerce and distribution platform.  The company is based in Hollywood, FL (www.theswigroup.com).

“Swiss Watch International is the clear market leader with an exceptional executive team that has an impressive track record of merchandising, distribution and online retailing capabilities. We are excited to sponsor SWI as a platform and deploy additional capital to consolidate the space. We plan to work closely with management to grow the business and contribute Clearlake’s operational capabilities to enhance value at SWI,” said Behdad Eghbali, founding partner at Clearlake.

Along with Mr. Eghbali and Arta Tabaee of Clearlake, Clearlake’s executive operating partners, Neel Grover and Greg Giraudi, have joined the SWI board of directors.  Messrs. Grover and Giraudi will serve as operating partners to the company, assisting management in implementing operational and marketing initiatives.   Mr. Grover and Mr. Giraudi bring e-commerce experience to SWI and were most recently chief executive officer and chief operating officer, respectively, of internet retailer Rakuten Buy.com.

“We are very pleased to partner with SWI, which is well-positioned to grow market share and capitalize on continued global e-commerce penetration and the expansion of the affordable luxury market,” said Mr. Grover. “SWI is a strong platform, and we believe its growth and profitability can be enhanced by implementing key commercial, operational, and marketing initiatives.”

Debt financing was provided by GSO Capital Partners and PNC Bank.  Blackstone Advisory Partners served as financial advisors to Swiss Watch International and Moelis & Company served as financial advisors to Clearlake.

Clearlake invests in special situations such as corporate divestitures, recapitalizations, buyouts, restructurings, turnarounds and minority equity investments.  Sectors of interest include business services, communications and media, energy and power, healthcare, manufacturing, retail/consumer and technology.  Clearlake was founded in 2006 and is headquartered in New York, NY (www.clearlakecapital.com).

“On behalf of the Ben-Shmuel family, we would like to express our genuine excitement to partner with Clearlake Capital and its operating partners. We are pleased to have chosen like-minded partners in Clearlake, which has demonstrated excellent results with its portfolio companies, and we have made a significant co-investment in the form of roll-over equity alongside Clearlake. With Clearlake’s sponsorship and value-added initiatives, we plan to continue to build on SWI’s history of growth and success,” said Izac, Lior and Shlomi Ben-Shmuel, co-founders of SWI.

© 2012 PEPD • Private Equity’s Leading News Magazine • 12-18-12

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