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$UHR to Buy Jewelry Brand From $HWD for $1 Billion

Swatch Group AG (UHR), the biggest maker of Swiss timepieces, agreed to buy the Harry Winston watch and jewelry unit for about $1 billion, adding a luxury label in its biggest acquisition.

Swatch Group will pay Harry Winston Diamond Corp. (HWD)$750 million and assume as much as $250 million in debt, the Biel- based company said in a statement today. Harry Winston Diamond, whose name was mentioned by Marilyn Monroe in “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend,” said it will now be known as Dominion Diamond Corp. and focus on its diamond-mining operations.

The acquisition will help Swatch compete against Cie. Financiere Richemont SA’s Cartier brand in the market for high- end jewelry and watches decorated with precious stones. Swatch, the biggest purchaser of polished diamonds, had a gap in its portfolio after a collaboration with Tiffany & Co. (TIF)dissolved into a legal dispute in 2011, according to Rene Weber, an analyst at Bank Vontobel in Zurich.

“Swatch was always missing a jewelry-watch brand and Harry Winston definitely fits into that category,” he said. “After the Tiffany disaster, they now have another brand to expand.”

The stock rose as much as 4.8 percent to a record 516 Swiss francs. They were 3.3 percent higher at 508.5 francs at 12:27 p.m. in Zurich….”

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