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December 19, 2016

HQ Equita sells STETTLER to Groupe IMI

HQ Equita has announced the sale of Sapphire Holding AG (“STETTLER”) to Groupe Industries Micromécaniques Internationales (“Groupe IMI”). STETTLER is a leading provider of high-quality sapphire glass used by the luxury watch industry as well as in various technical applications in the fields of optics, electronics and medicine. The parties mutually agreed not to disclose any details of the transaction.

STETTLER is a leading company in the processing of synthetic sapphire components for the watch market and for various technical applications in the fields of optics, electronics and medicine. The company’s broad customer base is comprised of leading companies across these sectors. With sites in Switzerland and Mauritius, STETTLER is able to meet both the “Swissness” requirement and the demand for low-cost yet high-quality products.

HQ Equita acquired STETTLER from the Stettler family, company management and two members of the supervisory board in July 2011. Martin Stettler kept a stake in the company and still leads the business as its CEO. Measures implemented jointly between STETTLER and HQ Equita include; (1) the ramp up and enhancement of high precision CNC milling of unique products, such as sapphire watch cases, and; (2) the implementation of its own production line for anti-reflex coating of watch glasses. In addition, HQ Equita supported the upgrade and extension of the production sites located in Switzerland and Mauritius with investments allocated towards expansion, modernization and automation.

“After our entry as shareholder, STETTLER decisively further developed its business model through building up competence for coating of watch glasses, among other things” said Jan C. Drewitz, Partner of HQ Equita. Dr. Michael Hönig, Senior Partner and Managing Director of HQ Equita, added, “As a sustainable investor, it is always important for us to find a long-term stable solution for our companies in the event of an exit.”

“The acquisition of STETTLER is an important stage in Groupe IMI’s strategy to become a major partner of the watch industry”, says Antoine Gérard, Chairman of the Management Board. “Year after year, we have built an industrial, independent and family-owned group with the aim to integrate technologies for the luxury market. STETTLER’s products and history are fully aligned with this vision.”

“HQ Equita has contributed to the success of the past few years,” explains Martin Stettler. “The investment policy focused on products and customers with high potential and an optimization of our cost structures have allowed us to strengthen our market position and to achieve improved results despite a difficult environment. The sale to a strategic investor provides the opportunity to continue this policy and grow through synergies.”

The transaction closed on 15 December 2016.


Should you have any queries, the following contacts will be pleased to assist you:

HQ Equita

Hering Schuppener
Unternehmensberatung für Kommunikation GmbH

Sebastian Göb
Phone: +49 151 16308949

Kathrin Meyer
Phone: +49 160 53 60 965



Martin Stettler, CEO
Phone: +41 32 38740 – 01


Group IMI

Samuel Jeanneret, CFO
Phone: +33 381 252 436



Sapphire Holding AG is the holding company of Stettler Sapphire AG which has a workforce of ca. 115 employees in Lyss and ca. 200 at its subsidiary in Mauritius. It is a leading company in the processing of synthetic sapphire components for watches in the high-end and ultra high-end market segment. Additional markets are in the fields of optics, electronics and medicine. For more information on Stettler Sapphire AG, visit


About HQ Equita

HQ Equita is the mid-cap direct buyout firm of HQ Capital. HQ Capital combines investment expertise in private equity and real estate as well as direct investments in German companies under a single brand and has currently more than US$11 billion assets under management. HQ Equita continues the Harald Quandt family’s tradition of acquiring entrepreneurial equity interests in SMEs. HQ Equita is considered an experienced provider in the German-speaking direct investment market. Since its inception in 1992, the company has obtained a total of 830 million euros in capital commitments and has taken stakes in over 30 enterprises over time. HQ Equita’s clients comprise institutional investors, family offices, foundations & trusts as well as renowned entrepreneurial families – including the Harald Quandt family. Further information is available at


About Groupe IMI

Groupe IMI is a family-owned business founded in 1987 by Mr. Jean-Pierre Gérard, the father of the current Chairman. In 1994, Groupe IMI made the acquisition of Cheval Frères a company located in Besançon, France. It currently counts with 6 firms specialized in micro-technics and in the manufacture of parts and products for luxury sectors. It leverages the experience of 500 employees to meet its customers’ needs in the fields of watch making, jewelry, leather goods, telephony and medical among others. Further information is available at