A week of acquisitions: Thule buys Sportworks' division and Quadriga buys Wolfskin

Acquisition news: Thule buys Quick-load Bike Racks. Quadriga Capital buys all Bain Capital's shares in Jack Wolfskin.
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Thule buys Quick-load Bike Racks
Thule announced April 1 that the company has agreed to purchase the Quick-load Bike Racks division from Sportworks Northwest Inc. (Sportworks). Thule will make the line available to Thule dealers on May 9.

Fred Clark, president of Thule USA, told SNEWS® that under the terms of the agreement, Thule will continue to distribute Sportworks Quick-load Bike Racks with Sportworks branding through the end of 2005. Beginning in September, Thule will begin the process of integrating the manufacturing of the racks into its factories, and by the start of 2006, all manufacture of the Quick-load racks will be handled by Thule and the racks will then begin carrying Thule branding exclusively.

As for what the racks will be called, Clark told us that it is too early in the game to know.

Sportworks will continue to manufacture and distribute its Bike-Rack-for-Buses line under the Sportworks brand -- www.sportworks.com.  

Thule and Sportworks will formerly announce the agreement to the public at the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, Calif., April 14-17.  

SNEWS® View: Thule keeps racking up the acquisitions (sorry, couldn't resist the pun). While Thule is getting stronger and stronger, it's main rival Yakima is forced to remain somewhat quiet and is a bit hamstrung by the current negotiations and finalization of a sale of the Watermark boat division to…well, as the world already appears to suspect but neither Confluence or Watermark execs can yet confirm…Confluence. Yakima will soon emerge from the shadows, though, as the company is scheduled to exhibit at both Outdoor Retailer Summer Market and, for the first time in quite some time, SIA's 2006 trade show in Las Vegas. And a strong Yakima is a good thing for the industry as that keeps Thule on its toes, and generates innovation and product development that drives sales.

Quadriga Capital buys all Bain Capital's shares in Jack Wolfskin
As we promised in our Feb. 24 story "Jack Wolfskin was not sold, contrary to reports," we would report news of a sale only when we received personal and official word -- and we have. On March 31, SNEWS® was informed that all shares of Jack Wolfskin, previously owned by Bain Capital, had been sold to a German private equity firm, Quadriga Capital. Wolfskin stated in an official release sent to SNEWS®: "Jack Wolfskin top management will continue to hold a considerable part of the shares." How much "considerable" is was not disclosed, and neither was the sale price of Bain's shares to Quadriga.

Bain purchased Wolfskin from Johnson Outdoors in 2002 for just under $70 million USD -- an amount that insiders told us at the time was quite a good price, for Bain not Johnson. Wolfskin has continued on a European tear of success since the Bain acquisition, opening branded stores all over the continent and abroad. As of Feb. 5, the company owned 56 stores in Germany, four in Switzerland, three in Belgium, two in Austria, one in the Netherlands, one in Finland, one in the United Kingdom and 24 in Japan.

According to a financial intelligence report shared with SNEWS®, Quadriga Capital provides majority equity investments, targeting primarily Germany, neighboring countries and the emerging markets in Eastern Europe through its affiliate, Quadriga Capital Russia. The company works closely with banks and pension funds, as well as insurance companies. Quadriga Capital typically acquires a majority equity stake in exchange for investments from $9.4 million to $56.5 million in mid-sized and large companies. The company provides bridge financing, delisting, expansion or development capital as well as replacement capital. Quadriga Capital's participation in management buyout and buy-in ranges between $14.1 million and $70.7 million. Target companies will be active in industries related to chemical materials, consumer goods, industrial products and services, manufacturing, life services and health-related medical sectors. Quadriga Capital is headquartered in Frankfurt, Germany.

SNEWS® View: We would suspect that as part of this deal, Wolfskin management increased its share of ownership in the company, although it is likely still a minority stake. Quadriga will likely be a good partner, and from reading the intelligence report and talking to insiders on the financial side, we would surmise that Wolfskin will soon begin expansion into the Eastern European markets and, quite likely, Russia, aided certainly by Quadriga's expertise in those markets. Will we perhaps see a return of Wolfskin to the United States? Not likely, at least in the next two years. We do know that Wolfskin CEO Manfred Hell was very hurt personally by the company's forced departure from the United States as a result of the sale by Johnson, so we're sure it is a market he would like to return to -- but only if it makes good business sense for Wolfskin.

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Jack Wolfskin was not sold, contrary to reports

In contradiction to news reports that have circulated in U.S. trade newsletters and international newspapers, Germany-based outdoor specialist Jack Wolfskin has not been sold. Wolfskin President Manfred Hell told SNEWS®, after rumors re-surfaced at and after the recent ispo ...read more