Sportswear firm makes $5.5b approach for Finnish athletic equipment maker
China's Anta Sports Products Ltd is planning to further expand its business scale in a bid to challenge Nike and Adidas, with a 4.7 billion-euro ($5.5 billion) approach for one of the world's biggest athletic gear makers.
Anta said it and Chinese buyout firm FountainVest Partners made an indicative offer for Amer Sports Oyj of Finland, which makes the Wilson tennis rackets used by Serena Williams as well as Atomic and Salomon ski equipment.
Under the nonbinding approach, which is subject to due diligence and other conditions, shareholders would receive a cash consideration of 40 euros a share, Anta said in a statement on Wednesday.
The Finnish company said in a separate statement it is not in negotiations with the consortium and has not made any decisions related to the proposal.
The city of Beijing will host the Winter Olympics in 2022, providing a springboard for sales of skis and snowboards. But Adam Zhang, founder of the Key-Solution sports marketing and consulting agency, said winter sports businesses in China are not going to achieve a sudden surge overnight.
Amer acquired Salomon and other brands from what was then known as Adidas-Salomon AG in 2005, adding the French label to Austrian brand Atomic, which Amer had acquired about a decade earlier. The German sportswear giant retreated from winter sports amid a sluggish market for ski equipment, though Salomon's sports shoes have been a hit since then.
Anta said in an earlier statement that the company is looking forward to collaborating with international brands.
"Brands under Amer Sports each have their own strengths in the fragmented market, which is even more enhanced by Amer's management's capacity to manage international markets," the statement said.
Zhang said Anta has clarified its direction through its previous acquisitions in recent years and this "group-buying of leading sports brands" would be a good deal allowing Anta to grow even bigger at home and abroad as a world leading sports product company.
Anta Sports, which has a market value of $12.5 billion, has been working to expand its business overseas and is seeking acquisitions of well-established global brands. Zheng Jie, president of Anta, said last month that the company delivered a record performance in the first six months ended June 30.
Anta's revenue in the first half reached 10.55 billion yuan ($1.54 billion), up 44.1 percent year-on-year and its profit rose 34 percent to 1.94 billion. Gross profit increased 3.7 percentage points to 54.3 percent.
Newly acquired high-fashion sports brand FILA has boosted Anta's strong growth. With 1,248 stores in China - an increase from 162 stores last year - FILA, which has positioned itself as a high-end sports fashion brand, has witnessed a strong surge, contributing to the greatest growth in the group, according to Zheng.
The group has 11,316 stores, covered by its single-focus, multiple brand strategy, positioning its brands across the mass market to high-end market spectrum.
Ding Shizhong, chairman and CEO of Anta Sports, said that Anta must build up its own capacity and innovate to ensure that it can rival international brands to "provide consumers with value-for-money sportswear products to high international standards".
Bloomberg contributed to the story.