Chinese approach for maker of Wilson rackets and Salomon ski gear

Indication of interest in all cash €4.6bn offer for Finnish sports goods business

A Salomon store in Beijing, China. The  maker of Wilson tennis rackets and Salomon hiking boots has a current market value of about €3.4 billion. Photograph: Jason Lee/Reuters

A Salomon store in Beijing, China. The maker of Wilson tennis rackets and Salomon hiking boots has a current market value of about €3.4 billion. Photograph: Jason Lee/Reuters

 

Finnish sportswear group Amer Sports said on Tuesday it had received an indication of interest in an €4.6 billion all-cash buyout from a consortium consisting of Chinese sports shoe company Anta and FountainVest Partners, a Hong Kong private equity group.

The Helsinki-based maker of Wilson tennis rackets and Salomon hiking boots has a current market value of about €3.4 billion.

Amer’s stock jumped as much as 14 per cent on reports of the deal, before being halted in early trading in Helsinki.

The company said the non-binding and preliminary offer was dependent on a number of conditions, including financing, recommendation from its board of directors, and approval from at least 90 per cent of its shareholders.

Amer shareholders would get €40 per share in cash if the deal went ahead.

Anta is one of China’s best known homegrown sportswear brands, and has seen rapidly rising revenues as more Chinese people embrace branded sportswear. Chinese clothing groups have made a series of overseas acquisitions in recent years, as they seek to move into more upmarket product segments.

Evaluate

Amer’s second-largest shareholder, a Finnish association with a 4.29 per cent stake, said it was open to the proposition but needed more time to evaluate it properly.

“Of course, if the price is right, everything is for sale,” the association’s head Timo Maasilta told Reuters.

Meanwhile, Amer’s largest shareholder, Finnish pension fund Keva, declined to comment on the approach by Anta, which sells the Fila and Descente brands as well as its own home-grown Anta label in China, and has long targeted Amer as it seeks to expand overseas by acquiring other well-established global brands.

Danske Bank portfolio manager Juha Varis said the offer, if confirmed by Anta, was “by no means underpriced”. “The Chinese partner [Anta] is clearly more profitable and has grown faster than Amer. So it makes sense, at least on paper,” Varis told Reuters.

The Finnish firm said the Anta-FountainVest consortium had indicated it would acquire Amer’s entire share capital for cash, adding that a deal was subject to conditions including the approval of investors holding at least 90 per cent of its shares.

Finalise deal

“At this time, Amer Sports is not engaged in any negotiations with the consortium and has made no decisions in respect of the indication of interest,” it said in a statement.

The Chinese consortium aims to submit an offer to Amer in the coming weeks and finalise the buyout deal by the end of the year, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2018/Reuters