SYDNEY, Australia — L Capital Asia, a private equity firm backed by luxury conglomerate LVMH, has acquired a 49.9 percent stake in Australian bootmaker and clothing retailer R.M. Williams, along with Malaysian utilities and property group YTL Corporation. The deal was valued at 52 million Australian dollars, or $54.3 million at current exchange rates. It is the second deal with Australian companies for Singapore-based L Capital, following an investment in upmarket food chain Jones The Grocer last August.
Founded in 1932 by the late Australian leatherworker and entrepreneur Reginald Murray Williams, R.M. Williams started as a mail order boot service, delivering handcrafted riding boots to customers. Today, R.M. Williams offers apparel, leather goods, and equestrian equipment at over 50 retail stores in Australia, two stores abroad in New York and London, and more than 900 stockists internationally.
Owner Ken Cowley initially acquired shares of R.M. Williams when the company was listed in 1994 and paid roughly $13 million for the remaining shares in 2003, when he privatised the business. L Capital Asia also has the option to purchase the remaining stake in the company from Mr. Cowley. The group’s portfolio includes investments in Hong Kong-based Ming Fung Jewellery Group and Indian group Genesis Luxury, which distributes branded goods from Jimmy Choo and Crabtree and Evelyn. The deal is expected to close in May.