Mining magnate Forrest brings famed bootmaker R.M. Williams back into Australian hands

Australian mining billionaire Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest has struck a deal to acquire iconic bootmaker R.M. Williams from a French private equity fund, bringing the brand back into Australian ownership after six years.

The Fortescue Metals Group founder and major shareholder said his private company had reached an agreement to the buy the asset from L Catterton, a fund backed by fashion giant LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton.

Forrest did not disclose the fee, but the Australian Financial Review reported a figure near A$190 million. This would represent a significant discount from the $500 million that local media reported when R.M. Williams was put up for sale last year.

Forrest will now take control of the firm, which has 900 Australia-based staff, through the investment company 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, calling the outfitter ‘a quintessential Aussie brand with a long and proud history of high-quality Australian craftsmanship’.

Forrest said he had been wearing ‘RMs’ since his days as a ‘jackaroo’ ranch hand in remote Western Australia.

“To wear RMs is to wear the boots of the countless hard-working Australians that have come before us,” he added.

@RGNonline