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Adidas sells Reebok to Authentic Brands in $2.5 billion deal

Aug. 12, 2021 Updated Thu., Aug. 12, 2021 at 1:05 p.m.

Pedestrians pass in front of Reebok International signage and a Charlotte Russe Inc. store at the Palm Beach Mall Holdings Outlets in West Palm Beach, Fla., on May 24, 2017.   (Saul Martinez/Bloomberg)
Pedestrians pass in front of Reebok International signage and a Charlotte Russe Inc. store at the Palm Beach Mall Holdings Outlets in West Palm Beach, Fla., on May 24, 2017.  (Saul Martinez/Bloomberg)
By Richard Clough and Crystal Tse Bloomberg

Adidas agreed to sell its underperforming Reebok business to Authentic Brands Group for up to 2.1 billion euros, or $2.5 billion, adding another well-known name to the buyer’s growing lineup of consumer companies.

The majority of the price will be paid in cash at closing, with the rest coming as deferred and contingent consideration, the companies said Thursday in a statement. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2022.

Authentic Brands Chief Executive Officer Jamie Salter said in the statement that the deal is “an important milestone” in the company’s growth. “We are committed to preserving Reebok’s integrity, innovation and values – including its presence in bricks and mortar.”

Authentic Brands, which filed recently for an initial public offering in the U.S., has already acquired more than 30 names, including bankrupt assets such as Barneys New York and Brooks Brothers. Reebok has been formally on the block since early this year after Adidas had tried to revive the brand’s performance for more than a decade.

Adidas shares rose as much as 2.5% to 314.70 euros in Frankfurt trading after the announcement.

Already this year, Authentic Brands has bought Eddie Bauer with Sparc Group, its joint venture with Simon Property Group. Authentic Brands, whose portfolio companies also include Forever 21 and Sports Illustrated, acquired a collection of brands from PVH Corp. that include Izod and Van Heusen.

The deal won’t change Adidas’ financial outlook for this year or its previously announced long-term targets, the company said. The bulk of the cash proceeds will be distributed to shareholders.

Reebok has long fascinated industry players, both as a cautionary tale and for the tantalizing potential of recapturing some of its old success. It became a giant seemingly overnight in the 1980s, propelled by the aerobics boom and even exceeded Nike Inc. for several years in terms of U.S. sneaker sales. That momentum quickly sputtered, however, and even Adidas has never managed to reignite the brand.

Adidas acquired Reebok for $3.8 billion in 2006. When he arrived at Adidas in 2016, CEO Kasper Rorsted made a priority of fixing Reebok’s long-sluggish performance. He closed underperforming stores and allowed some licensing deals to expire, cutting sales at the sporting label while slashing expenses even more.

After Reebok regained profitability by early 2019, Rorsted said he wanted to generate sales growth with new footwear lines like the CrossFit Nano and the FloatRide Run. He compared overseeing Adidas and Reebok to being like a parent who loves both his children equally.

The chance to capitalize on Reebok’s deep archive of classic footwear and apparel styles – from the clean white sneakers featuring the Union Jack to the black-and-white bullseye basketball kicks worn by Shaquille O’Neal – could be a motivating factor for potential buyers.

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