Babe Ruth's Bat Gets China Call-Up as Trump Fans Trade War

(Bloomberg) -- While U.S. President Donald Trump swings away at China in a global trade war, the maker of Babe Ruth’s baseball bats is being sized up by a suitor from the Asian country.

China’s Anta Sports Products Ltd. has offered $5.5 billion for Finland’s Amer Sports Oyj, owner of Louisville Slugger, which has turned out bats for America’s pastime for 134 years.

The bat maker got its start when Pete Browning, a late-1800s baseball star known as the Louisville Slugger, worked with founder John Hillerich to make an implement to his specifications, according to the brand’s website. Since then, baseball icons from Ted Williams to Hank Aaron to Derek Jeter have gone to the plate with Louisville Slugger bats in hand.

While ski equipment brands like Atomic and Salomon are a bigger factor in the approach for Omer, with Anta gearing up for the Beijing Winter Olympics four years from now, the move comes as Trump doubles down on threats to impose higher tariffs on China’s goods, saying he’s ready to tax all imports “on short notice.”

Amer acquired Louisville Slugger in 2015 for $70 million from Hillerich & Bradsby Co., saying the brand had sales of $75 million a year earlier.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.