Hugh Jackman has plenty to smile about after the sale of R.M. Williams. (PhotoNews International Inc., FilmMagic)
- Andrew 'Twiggy' Forrest has bought R.M. Williams through his family investment fund Tattarang.
- He and his wife Nicola said they were "incredibly proud and humbled", forking out $190 million for complete ownership of the Australian bootmaker.
- Hugh Jackman, who had a 5% stake, will pocket roughly $10 million as part of the deal.
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R.M. Williams is again under local ownership after Andrew Forrest revealed he had bought the iconic Australian bootmaker on Monday.
The mining magnate and billionaire said he and his wife said they were "incredibly proud and humbled" to have bought R.M. Williams via the family investment fund Tattarang.
"R.M. Williams is a quintessential Aussie brand with a long and proud history of high-quality Australian craftsmanship," he said.
Forrest bought it for a reported $190 million from majority owner L Catterton, an American private equity firm that is partnered with a very different shoemaker, luxury brand Louis Vuitton. It had been shopping R.M. Williams around for some time with a handful of interested parties, including TPG Capital.
While it bought the bootmaker in 2014 for $110 million, it had been talking up the sale price as running up to $500 million. While the Forrests among others may have been anxious to buy it, clearly none were willing to fork out even half that price tag.
Perhaps the biggest unexpected winner out of the deal will be Hugh Jackman, who had owned a 5% minority stake. With the Forrests taking complete control, his stake has now been cashed in for around $10 million.
The change, however, will likely mean little materially for the brand. The Adelaide-based brand employs 900 people throughout the business, most of whom are local.
"By bringing R.M. Williams back into Australian hands, we will ensure the Australian craftmanship continues to be loved and worn all around the world," Nicola Forrest said.
"Andrew and I want to continue the legacy of this great company, and that means continuing to employ and support the Australians that have built and grown the brand."
That includes Jackman who will remain on as brand ambassador.