By  on July 13, 2005

NEW YORK — Private equity firm Founders Equity Inc. has acquired a stake in The Colibri Group Inc., a manufacturer and marketer of pocket and pendant watches, as well as the women's jewelry brand Krementz.

Warren H. Haber, who co-founded the private equity firm, said the deal closed in late June. He declined to disclose its terms, but said the investment led by Founders along with two co-investors, CITIC Provident and Main Street Resources, gives the three firms an 80 percent stake in Providence, R.I.-based Colibri. Fred Levenger, chairman and chief executive officer of Colibri, will retain a 20 percent minority stake in the company he founded.

In addition to Krementz, Colibri manufactures and sells men's jewelry under the brand name Dolan & Bullock, as well as Colibri lighters and Linden and Seth Thomas clocks. The products are sold at Tiffany & Co., Wal-Mart Stores and Zale Corp., to name a few. Colibri is also the exclusive distributor in the U.S. of S.T. Dupont writing instruments and lighters.

Haber noted that while Main Street Resources is an investment firm similar to Founders, CITIC has expertise in sourcing in China. CITIC's parent is CITIC Group, a large Chinese conglomerate. Founders and Main Street currently hold equal stakes, percentage-wise, in Colibri, with CITIC owning a lesser stake.

"We think that over time that could possibly change as opportunities [come up] where we will be making additional investments," Haber said.

According to Haber, Levenger will be stepping down as ceo, but will retain the chairmanship, a move that will allow him to focus more on identifying acquisition targets and licensing opportunities both in the U.S. and overseas, particularly in the fashion sector.

"We're thinking of expanding [Colibri's] product lines by acquisition of either underperforming brands or brands with opportunity, and also in organic growth through additional licensing with the name brands we have. We don't view Colibri as a jewelry company, but more as a consumer-branded products firm," Haber said.

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