Fenway Partners, Inc., the private equity firm that owns Riddell Sports Group, has acquired Bell Sports and its Bell and Giro helmet brands in a $240 million deal with current Bell Sports owners Chartwell Investments Inc., GarMark Partners LP and Wachovia Capital Partners.
Fenway expects to merge the companies under a new company banner that will run by Bell Sports president and CEO Bill Fry, who joined Bell in 2001. Bill Sherman will remain president and CEO of Riddell and serve on the board of the combined company.
Bells trailing twelve-month revenues are estimated to be roughly $210 million, which would put the deal at around 1.1x revenues. While earnings were not revealed, reports have the price tag at around 8x EBITDA.
The merged entity, which will produce more than 8 million helmets annually and generate more than $300 million in sales in 2004, now supplies helmets to 85% of the NFL as well as six-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, BMX stunt-riding champion Dave Mirra, leading freestyle skier Tanner Hall, and supercross champion Jeremy McGrath. Bell Sports is estimated to own about 60% of the cycling and action sports helmet market.
Goldman, Sachs & Co. is reportedly providing Riddell with a $260 million debt facility to fund the deal refinance existing debt.
The merger now reunites Bell and Riddell, which were once part of the same holding company until 1984, when investors sold the two companies in separate transactions. Fenway Partners acquired Riddell Sports Group in July 2003 in a $100 million deal with former owner Lincolnshire Management. Lincolnshire acquired Riddell for approximately $61 million in cash in June 2001 from the company now known as Varsity Brands.
Fenway Partners has assets in excess of $1.4 billion and invests in companies with established reputations and widely recognized brands.