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Tom Ford is a newly minted billionaire, thanks to his $2.8 billion Estée Lauder deal

Hong Kong
CNN Business

A blockbuster deal to sell his eponymous fashion brand has catapulted fashion designer Tom Ford into the global billionaires club.

Ford, 61, who launched The Tom Ford Brand in 2005 and developed it into a luxury apparel and accessories powerhouse, sold his company on Tuesday to Estée Lauder Companies ( EL ) in a deal worth $2.8 billion.

Estée Lauder’s acquisition of Tom Ford Brands is expected to close in the first half of next year, pending regulatory approvals. The deal will fully integrate Tom Ford Brands, which already has an ongoing partnership with the cosmetics and skin care giant, into Estée Lauder’s diverse portfolio.

The two companies have been partners for more than 15 years after launching the Tom Ford Beauty brand together in 2006.

As a result of the sale, Ford now joins the ranks of global billionaires, according to Forbes, which estimates the designer, who owned nearly 64% of his company, will receive about $1.1 billion in cash from the sale after deducting estimated taxes. Ford’s existing portfolio also includes at least two homes, one in Los Angeles and one in New York City, valued at a combined $65 million, the publication said.

Ford will continue as the brand’s “creative visionary” after the deal closes and remain in that role until the end of 2023, according to the statement.

Domenico De Sole, the Ford brand’s chairman who previously headed Gucci, will also continue as a consultant for the same period.

The deal, which will be settled through a combination of cash, debt and deferred payments due in 2025, will allow two of Tom Ford’s current partners, Ermenegildo Zegna and Marcolin, to extend their existing licensing agreements, the companies said.

Zegna, the luxury Italian fashion house, will expand its current arrangement “to include a long-term license for all men’s and women’s fashion, as well as accessories and underwear,” the company said. Marcolin will continue to make sunglasses and optical frames under the Ford brand.

The Estée Lauder Companies, which is home to several global beauty brands including Clinique and Bobbi Brown, said it expects annual sales of Tom Ford’s cosmetics to reach $1 billion “within the next couple of years.”

“As an owned brand, this strategic acquisition will unlock new opportunities and strengthen our growth plans for Tom Ford Beauty,” Estée Lauder Companies President and CEO Fabrizio Freda said in a statement.

Born in Austin, Texas in 1961, Ford studied art history at New York University and later architecture at the Parsons School of Design in New York and Paris. He moved to Milan in 1990 where he began his career in fashion as a womenswear designer for Gucci. A few years later, he was appointed creative director and was responsible for all Gucci product lines, from clothing to perfumes.

During his 10 years in that role, Gucci’s sales increased from $230 million to more than $3 billion. In 2005, Ford struck out on his own and started his own company.

Ford said in a statement that he “could not be more pleased with this acquisition as The Estée Lauder Companies is the ideal home for the brand.”

“They have been an extraordinary partner from the first day I created the company and I am thrilled to see them become luxury managers in this next chapter,” he said.

—CNN’s Parija Kavilanz contributed to this story.

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