Who’s in, who’s out? That’s the question swirling around potential purchasers of the Reebok brand.
As the Aug. 2 deadline approaches for second-round bids to be submitted, speculation is rampant about who might buy the sports brand from Adidas, its German parent company. As reported, at the end of last year, Adidas put the brand up for sale and said it hopes to complete a deal by the end of this year.
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One front-runner from the beginning has been Authentic Brands Group, the brand management firm headed by Jamie Salter that has made most of the high-profile deals in the U.S. over the last few years, including Barneys New York, Forever 21, Brooks Brothers, Sports Illustrated and Eddie Bauer.
On Friday, reports surfaced that ABG had bowed out, but some observers were skeptical. “It seems very strange,” said one source. “ABG doesn’t drop out of anything if they really want something.”
Salter has made no secret of his interest in Reebok since his company controls the intellectual property of Shaquille O’Neal, who was an ambassador for the brand during his playing days in the 1990s. ABG could not be reached for comment Friday and is in a quiet period since it has filed paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission to go public this summer.
Whether ABG submits a bid for Reebok next month remains to be seen, but another name has surfaced as a highly interested party: WHP Global. The owner of the Joseph Abboud, Anne Klein and Toys “R” Us labels was created two years ago and is headed by Yehuda Shmidman. Since its founding, WHP has received $350 million in equity commitments from funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management. A WHP spokesperson declined to comment.
In addition to WHP, a number of private equity firms are also on the short list to buy Reebok, according to sources: Advent International, Cerberus Capital Management, CVC Capital Partners and Sycamore Partners.
Adidas bought Reebok for $3.8 billion in 2006 and the price tag now is expected to be around $2.4 billion. In its most recent earnings release on May 7, Adidas only said it has incurred costs of 60 million euros related to the intended divestiture of Reebok in the first quarter, and is reporting all income and expenses for the brand as discontinued operations. However, Harm Ohlmeyer, chief financial officer of Adidas, said Reebok “experienced a sustainable business recovery in Q1, with net sales up double digits backed by a strong order book going into 2021.”
Matt O’Toole, president of Reebok, told WWD in May that the sale process is a long one and Adidas is still narrowing down the field of potential purchasers but is still on track to complete the transaction by yearend.