Chinese Suitor Progresses in Amer Sports Deal Talks

(Bloomberg) -- Amer Sports Oyj’s Chinese suitor is advancing in negotiations over a potential takeover of the Finnish company, which owns brands including Wilson tennis rackets, people familiar with the matter said.

The Chinese investor group, led by Anta Sports Products Ltd., has started speaking with banks about financing for the transaction, according to the people. It has also been progressing in its due diligence on Amer, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.

The consortium, which also includes private equity firm FountainVest Partners, held meetings in Europe with Amer shareholders in recent weeks to explain the merits of a deal, the people said. No final decisions have been made, and talks could still fall apart, according to the people.

Anta confirmed in a statement Thursday that the company had held “certain discussions with Amer Sports, FountainVest and their respective advisers intended to ascertain whether there is a basis to commence a more formal process to facilitate the possible acquisition.”

An agreement depends on certain conditions being met, including a deal being structured as a cash tender offer and investors representing at least 90 percent of the company’s shares accepting it on a conditional basis, Anta said. No definitive agreement has been reached.

Amer shares rose 2.9 percent at 5:42 p.m. in Helsinki on Thursday.

Olympic Prep

Anta and FountainVest have made a preliminary indicative offer of 40 euros per share for Amer, valuing the target at about 4.7 billion euros ($5.4 billion). Amer and Anta confirmed the Chinese group’s non-binding approach last month after a Bloomberg News report on the deliberations.

Representatives for Anta and FountainVest declined to comment, while a representative for Amer didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Amer’s portfolio of well-known sports brands is an attractive prospect for Anta ahead of the upcoming Olympic Games in Asia. Beijing will host the Winter Olympics in 2022, providing a springboard for sales of skis and snowboards, while the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo will offer a showcase for other Amer brands.

The Chinese government is pushing to expand in sports ranging from soccer to skiing, as well as the industries that supply equipment for competitors and weekend enthusiasts. Anta, which has a market value of $10.3 billion, has been working to expand its business overseas and is seeking acquisitions of well-established global brands.

Anta is also scouting for business partners to help it enter the European market as soon as next year, James Zheng, Anta brand president, said in a February interview.

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