Friday, October 01, 2010

Arena gets bought by "Riverside Europe" - A private equity firm with $3.2-billion in assets!

The swimsuit market is saturated by regional brands in Japan, Korea, China, etc. etc. Speedo is an amazingly strong number one which I estimate to be about $350 million in sales. So, what does this partnership mean?

It means that Arena is being taken quite seriously as a contender to Speedo. The Riverside Group has businesses on just about every continent and nearly 50-businesses in United States alone.

"Results on deck" is Arena's marketing mantra and it was Arena who knocked Speedo off the pedestal at the 2009 Fina World Championships with upset wins over Phelps and others. One could take the moral high ground and state we should be talking about swimmers instead of suits but the truth is, the athletes rather have you talking about their suits so they can pay their bills.

With Speedo mostly concentrating on A-list athletes primarily in America and Australia, Arena went global with regional superstars all throughout Europe and beyond. Even in emerging economies such as South America with, Cesar Cielo, and even in Africa with Roland Schoeman and Kristy Coventry, they are creating a global brand and doing it very quickly. Arena has realized that you don't have to have the world's best swimmers either. For instance take this international star who reportedly brings in $2-billion dollars in sales for Mattel: Barbie!

FINA is now making subtle moves to bring the suits back and with it has come the Riverside Group. They wouldn't be getting into this business if there wasn't any money in it.

Here is the bulk of the press release:

High-profile acquisition is Riverside’s first deal with Italian focus

Milan and Brussels, September 30th, 2010

The Riverside Company, the largest global private equity firm investing in mid-sized companies with enterprise values up to €200 million, announces its first deal focused on Italy with the acquisition from the Italian fund BS Private Equity of 100% of the Arena Group, a leading world-wide player in the sports waterwear segment, with Net Sales 2009 in the range of € 100 million.

This is Riverside’s 14th acquisition in 2010 and is part of the Riverside Europe Fund IV (REF IV). The team responsible for the transaction comprised Partners Tomasz Glowacki and Kai Köppen, Vice President Dr. Michael Weber and Associate Sven-Hendrik Schulze. Ivica Turza, Vice President, originated the deal.

Since its establishment in 1998, Riverside has successfully completed 237 acquisitions for a total enterprise value in the range of € 4.1 billion. As of today, Riverside’s global portfolio consists of 74 companies with aggregate Net Sales above € 2.7 billion.
Cristiano Portas, CEO of Arena Group, and Arena’s top management team confirm their commitment to the company and the brand by re-investing alongside Riverside in the new venture.

Arena products are distributed in over 100 countries worldwide, including those managed by the Descente Group based in Japan, trade mark owner for the Far East. Established by sports visionary Horst Dassler in 1973, the brand is well known for its focus and competence on product innovation and technological power, which are the key drivers for its competitive advantage and business growth.

Throughout its history, Arena has been a partner to legendary champions, such as Mark Spitz, Shane Gould, Matt Biondi, Alexander Popov, Franziska Van Almsick, Aaron Peirsol, Filippo Magnini, Laure Manadou, Laszlo Cseh, Paul Biedermann, Alain Bernard, Kirsty Coventry, Rebecca Soni and Cesar Cielo, to name just a few.

Arena R&D team exploits a fully integrated network of scientific partners and best-of-breed fabric manufacturers, to develop breakthrough technologies applicable to racing swimwear and equipment.
“We are extremely satisfied for the business and financial results achieved by Arena over the last four years” said Alessandra Gavirati, partner at BS Private Equity.

“We are very thankful to BS Private Equity for the strong support given to Arena in the development of the brand and the business” said Cristiano Portas, Arena Group CEO, “We are also extremely confident towards the future, as we truly believe that Riverside will be an outstanding partner, able to support Arena in its further growth aiming at becoming the global leader in the waterwear sports market”.

“Arena is an attractive investment opportunity for Riverside thanks to its strong brand position, its image among top athletes and millions of water sport lovers all over the world, a very successful track record and a huge growth potential” said Tomasz Głowacki, Riverside Partner.

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