Chi­nese group agrees to buy Amer Sports in $5.2B deal

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - FINANCIAL POST - JEFF SUTHER­LAND

TOKYO A Chi­nese in­vestor group led by Anta Sports Prod­ucts Ltd. agreed to buy Amer Sports Oyj, the Fin­nish ath­letic-gear maker whose brands in­clude Wil­son ten­nis rack­ets, for about 4.6 bil­lion eu­ros (US$5.2 bil­lion).

The con­sor­tium, which in­cludes Chi­nese buy­out firm Foun­tainVest Partners, will of­fer share­hold­ers a cash con­sid­er­a­tion of 40 eu­ros a share, it said in a state­ment Fri­day.

The price rep­re­sents a 14 per cent pre­mium over the Fin­nish com­pany’s closing stock price on Wed­nes­day, and is al­most dou­ble Amer’s val­u­a­tion a year ago.

Sig­nif­i­cant mi­nor­ity in­vestors in the con­sor­tium also in­clude Chip Wil­son, the bil­lion­aire founder of yoga-ap­parel re­tailer Lu­l­ule­mon Ath­let­ica Inc., and Chi­nese in­ter­net gi­ant Ten­cent Hold­ings Ltd.

The con­sor­tium on Thurs­day signed a 2.2 bil­lion-euro, five-year loan to partly back the ac­qui­si­tion, peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter told Bloomberg News.

Anta said in Septem­ber it had teamed up with Foun­tainVest to make an in­dica­tive of­fer for Amer at 40 eu­ros a share. That news sent Amer stock soar­ing 19 per cent, its big­gest one-day jump ever.

Anta, China’s big­gest ath­letic-ap­parel pro­ducer, has been work­ing to in­crease its busi­ness over­seas and is seek­ing ac­qui­si­tions of well-es­tab­lished global brands.

The Chi­nese gov­ern­ment is push­ing to ex­pand in sports rang­ing from soc­cer to ski­ing, as well as the in­dus­tries that sup­ply equip­ment for com­peti­tors and week­end en­thu­si­asts.

Amer’s port­fo­lio of well-known brands, in­clud­ing Salomon ski boots, is an at­trac­tive prospect for Anta ahead of com­ing Olympic Games in Asia. Bei­jing will host the Win­ter Olympics in 2022, pro­vid­ing a spring­board for sales of skis and snow­boards, while the 2020 Sum­mer Games in Tokyo will of­fer a show­case for other Amer brands.

The Fin­nish com­pany also sells Louisville Slug­ger base­ball bats, Arc’teryx out­door gear and Atomic win­ter equip­ment. Its shares were halted Fri­day pend­ing the an­nounce­ment.

JONATHAN HAy­wARD/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS FILES

Lu­l­ule­mon Ath­let­ica Inc. founder Chip Wil­son is among the sig­nif­i­cant mi­nor­ity stake­hold­ers in the con­sor­tium tak­ing over Amer Sports.

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