An Australian billionaire, Andrew Forrest, has bought R.M. Williams, the producer of an iconic Australian outback boot, from L Catterton, a private-equity company backed by LVMH, and some minority shareholders including the Australian actor Hugh Jackman.
No financial details were disclosed but the Australian Financial Review said that the selling price was Australian $190 million (€114.0m-$135.4m), less than half the price at which the company had been valued by the sellers and about nine times 2019 earnings. L Catterton had put the Australian shoe maker on the market last year.
Reginald Murray Williams founded the company in 1932. The brand focuses on manufacturing, distribution and retailing of high quality footwear, clothing and leather goods. But it is best known for its hand-crafted ankle-high boots worn by a wide public ranging from ranch workers to businessmen. L Catterton acquired the brand in 2013 in a deal valued around A$110 million (€66.0m, $78.4m).
Forrest bought the company through an investment firm, Tattarang, he jointly owns with his wife Nicola. “Nicola and I are incredibly proud and humbled to be able to bring R.M. Williams back under Australian ownership,” he said in a statement.
In an interview, he added that R.M. Williams had lost touch with its Australian identity as L Catterton had sought to attract a more international urban clientele.
Tattarang pledged to continue producing R.M. Williams boots in Australia and plans to increase the brand’s online business. The fund also plans to continue investing in the “lifestyle” segment.
Jackman, who reportedly pocketed about A$10 million (€6.0m-$7.1m) from the sale of a 5 percent stake, will remain an ambassador for the brand, as he has been since 2015.