Michael Hlinka: Kohlberg's bet on Bauer may be smart play for hockey
- February 1, 2011 12:23 PM |
- By Michael Hlinka
(Money Talks is a business column from CBC radio.)
By Michael Hlinka, CBC business columnist
I'm a sports fan and I'm Canadian, which means that almost by definition I have to like hockey. We just finished All-Star weekend which is my least favourite weekend of the season ... anytime a hockey game ends with a score of 11 to 10, you know that what was played wasn't really hockey. So the game held no attraction to me. However, what I found very interesting was a business story that came out a couple of days before the puck dropped - and I don't think that the timing was a coincidence.
Kohlberg Sports Inc., a private equity fund, is taking one of its holdings, Bauer Performance Sports Ltd., public. Very soon you'll be able to buy shares of this iconic Canadian company.
Bauer was established in 1927 in Kitchener, Ont. When I was growing up, Bauer and hockey equipment were as closely tied together as Foster Hewitt's, "He shoots, he scores!" I can't remember owning anything but Bauer skates and gloves and pads.
Sports behemoth Nike recognized the power of the Bauer brand and snapped it up in 1995 for $395 million. I remember the excitement at the time: If Nike believed in hockey, then surely the sport was poised to take off.
Except it never really happened. And in 2008 Nike sold Bauer to Kohlberg, at the bargain basement price of $200 million, receiving half of what it paid 13 years earlier.
Kohlberg is a respected private equity firm. One of the strategies these firms employ is to turn around the operations of private companies and then take them public. This means allowing people like you and me to invest in them by buying shares on stock exchanges such as Toronto and New York.
And this is why I think that this is such an interesting business story. Kohlberg plans to sell 20 per cent of Bauer for $75 million. If you do the arithmetic, it puts the value of all of Bauer at about $375 million - which is not too far off from what Nike thought it was worth 13 years ago.
What's going on?
It may be that some very smart people think once again that hockey's time has come. In 1995, when Nike bought Bauer, the betting was that Eric Lindros would propel the game to new heights. Now it's another Canadian kid who's the great Ice Hope: Sidney Crosby from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia. If Sid the Kid can do in professional hockey what Michael Jordan did in basketball - and that's deliver multiple championships - then perhaps the sport will capture the attention of the American people and propel hockey to a standing that the other major North American sports enjoy.
A longshot? Perhaps. But Bauer going public says something to me ... and that something is that perhaps the sport is really turning the corner after all.
- Andrew Wahl (19)
- Andrew Willis (13)
- Bob LeDrew (10)
- Dan Noel (1)
- David Baskin (18)
- David Berman (1)
- David Colman (14)
- Deborah Yedlin (29)
- Duncan Stewart (29)
- Ellen Roseman (90)
- Jacqueline Drew (10)
- Jim Bray (25)
- Jim Jubak (6)
- John Gilchrist (4)
- Kelly VanBuskirk (6)
- Kira Vermond (73)
- Loraleigh Kovacik (9)
- Michael Hlinka (183)
- Peter Vincent (16)
- Pierre Battah (1)
- Todd Hirsch (1)
All News blogs
- Kira Vermond: Resolutions for Work
- New Year, new you. At least that's what you're shooting for in 2012 at your workplace. This is the year that you're going to ditch your wallflower ways, speak up in meetings and take the initiative.... Continue reading this post
- Ellen Roseman: Air Miles-Use them or lose them!
- If you're collecting Air Miles, you now have only five years to use them. And if you don't redeem in time, you'll lose them.... Continue reading this post