TaylorMade-Adidas To Buy Ashworth

TaylorMade-Adidas has made a deal to acquire apparel maker Ashworth.

I find that interesting, because of the previously strong push for Adidas branded golf apparel. Will the Adidas brand stick to shoes and the new Ashworth subsidiary take over clothing?

It’s interesting how these things go around. Ashworth Founder John Ashworth left the company in 1997 to found the Fidra golf apparel company. Fidra in turn was bought by the Quicksilver group, which also owns Cleveland Golf. Then, Fidra was sold to the Goodtimes Group, which now apparently markets Fidra primarily to the Asian market.

In the meantime, John Ashworth had returned to his namesake company in 2007.

I wonder if he was part of the deal with Adidas.

Another interesting twist. Ashworth makes clothing for Callaway, sold under the Callaway brand. Will there be a snag there? There’s no love lost between those two companies, who have a history of suing each other.

It’s also apparently not certain that Ashworth shareholders will accept the bid. It’s considerably less than what Ashworth was selling for a couple of weeks ago. Of course, EVERYTHING is worth less than it was a couple of weeks ago.

The press release for the Adidas acquisition follows:

CARLSBAD, Calif. (October 13, 2008) – The adidas Group and Ashworth, Inc. (NASDAQ: ASHW) announced today that the TaylorMade-adidas Golf business segment has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire all of the outstanding shares of Ashworth, Inc. for $1.90 per share in cash. The transaction value is $72.8 million (€54.1 million), which includes the assumption of $46.3 million (€34.4 million) of Ashworth debt based on Ashworth, Inc.‘s 10-Q for the period ended July 31, 2008.1 The transaction will be effected through a tender offer to be launched shortly by a subsidiary of Taylor Made Golf Company, Inc. (“TaylorMade-adidas Golf”) for all outstanding Ashworth shares. The tender offer will be subject to, among other things, the condition that at least a majority of the outstanding Ashworth shares are tendered.

Through the acquisition of Ashworth, TaylorMade-adidas Golf becomes the leading and most balanced golf apparel company with a complete apparel offering for golfers globally. The transaction enables TaylorMade-adidas Golf to widen its product range, to further strengthen its distribution platform and to extend its marketing presence.

“Ashworth is a well-established, authentic golf apparel brand with a strong heritage and represents an excellent addition to TaylorMade and adidas Golf,” said adidas AG Chairman and CEO Herbert Hainer. “This acquisition underscores our commitment to continued growth in the golf category.”

“We are excited to bring Ashworth alongside our industry-leading TaylorMade and adidas Golf brands. TaylorMade-adidas Golf’s mission is to be the best performance golf company in the world and adding Ashworth is another important step in achieving that goal,” commented Mark King, President and CEO of TaylorMade-adidas Golf.

“This deal provides exciting prospects for our colleagues, partners and customers around the world. The Ashworth® brand fits perfectly into TaylorMade-adidas Golf’s line-up of brands and together we will be able to increase efficiency and drive the golf apparel business going forward, leveraging a broad set of resources,” said Allan Fletcher, CEO of Ashworth, Inc.

The Board of Directors of Ashworth has approved the transaction. In addition, members of the Knightspoint Partners group who collectively own over 16% of Ashworth’s outstanding shares have entered into an agreement whereby they have agreed to tender their shares. The Knightspoint Partners group represents the largest reporting shareholder group of Ashworth.

The adidas Group plans to finance the acquisition with cash on hand or through existing credit lines. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the fourth quarter 2008.

In connection with the transaction, Barclays Capital is acting as financial advisor to the adidas Group, and Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP is serving as legal counsel. Kurt Salmon Associates Capital Advisors, Inc. is acting as financial advisor to Ashworth.

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