Wednesday 23 October 2019

Chinese group to buy Wilson tennis racket maker


Roger Federer’s Wilson rackets will now come from a Chinese-owned maker
Roger Federer’s Wilson rackets will now come from a Chinese-owned maker

Jeff Sutherland

A Chinese investor group led by Anta Sports Products has reached a $5.2bn (€4.56bn) deal to acquire the maker of Wilson tennis rackets as it seeks to bring high-end athletic equipment to China's wealthy consumers.

The consortium, which includes Chinese buyout firm FountainVest Partners, will offer shareholders of Finland's Amer Sports Oyj €40 a share.

The deal is the largest struck by a Chinese acquirer for a European asset since China Investment agreed to buy Logicor Europe for almost $14bn (€12.3bn) in June 2017.

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

China has become a major focus for makers of luxury products as firms target an increasingly wealthy middle class. Companies such as Adidas are also seeking to tap into a growing interest in healthy lifestyles among the nation's consumers.

Anta, China's biggest athletic apparel producer, is seeking acquisitions of well-established global brands as it works to increase its business overseas. 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, Arc'teryx outdoor gear and Atomic winter equipment, is an attractive prospect for Anta ahead of the 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.

"We are excited to bring these premium international brands and products to Chinese consumers, who increasingly seek high-end products with outstanding qualities and heritage in various niche and specialised sports segments," said Anta Sports chief executive officer Ding Shizhong.

The offer price represents a 14pc premium over Amer's closing stock price on Wednesday, and is almost double Amer's valuation a year ago.


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