Surprising winner of RM Williams sale

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Hollywood actor Hugh Jackman stands to earn a hefty payout if the iconic bootmaker RM Williams follows through with its plan to sell the business for $500 million.

Investment bank Goldman Sachs was brought in by the company’s owner, Singapore-based L Catterton Asia, to shop around the luxurious brand ahead of a potential sale towards the end of the year, The Australian Financial Review reported.

If the Adelaide-based bootmaker fetches the whopping fee then Jackman, who has a 5 per cent stake in the company, will pocket $25 million.

The boots, famously branded as being made in Adelaide’s northern suburb of Prospect, have outgrown their roots in rural towns and are a common accessory in Australian cities and overseas.

RM Williams has about 50 storefronts across the country as well as in New York, London and Scandinavia.

L Catterton expanded its minority interest in the company in 2014 from 49.9 per cent to 82 per cent.

The superannuation fund IFM Investors owns 13 per cent and Jackman, who is also a brand ambassador for RM Williams, owns the rest.

Last financial year, the bootmaker’s sales revenue was $142 million.

L Catterton is a private equity investor backed by LVMH Moët Hennessy, which is behind powerhouse brands such as Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and, of course, Moët Hennessy champagne.

Although the company is already owned by a foreign entity, RM Williams has kept its workforce inside the country because the brand relies heavily on the Australian image and craftsmanship, Queensland University of Technology retail expert Gary Mortimer said.

“As long as production stays at its point of production then there will be no issue around selling off the brand,” he told news.com.au.

“It still needs to remain an Aussie brand, that’s its iconic value in the same way that Vegemite has always been the iconic Australian sandwich spread despite being owned by Kraft for many years and only recently coming back to Bega.”

The company’s owners are wanting to sell RM Williams for between $400 million and $500 million.

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