Mad Engine buys millennial beanie brand Neff Headwear

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Mad Engine LLC has completed the purchase of Neff Headwear, which makes hats and other accessories aimed at millennials, from private equity firm Marlin Equity Partners. Founder Shaun Neff joins Mad Engine as chief creative officer.

Neff Headwear is a youth-focused clothing company based in Camarillo, California. Launched in 2002 by Shaun and Joe Neff, the Southern California business distributes beanies, t-shirts, tank tops, jackets, sweatshirts, swimming trunks, gloves, watches, sunglasses, bibs and pants. The headgear brand is sold in the U.S. and internationally across 45 countries.

Mad Engine, headquartered in San Diego, California, is a global licensed apparel wholesaler. Mad Engine’s portfolio of brand licenses includes: Marvel, Star Wars, Disney and Nickelodeon. The buyer distributes products to independent boutiques and mass market retailers. Mad engine operates from several divisions, including: men’s, boys, toddlers, ladies, missy, junior, girls, sleep and lounge wear.

Marlin Equity is a Los Angeles-based investment firm with more than $6.7 billion of capital under management. The PE firm acquired Neff Headwear in April 2012. The firm, with an additional office in London, has completed more than 100 acquisitions since its establishment. In March, Marlin equity raised two private equity funds to back software companies: a flagship fund with nearly $2.5 billion in capital commitments and a small cap fund with $750 million. In November 2016, Marlin Equity completed the acquisition of Edgenet, a software-as-a-service company providing product data management, and later in December unveiled a new portfolio company called Elenon Technologies.

Acquisitions of clothing, t-shirt and accessory brands are no stranger to the middle-market. Recent deals include: lower middle-market PE firm Sentinel Capital’s buying of apparel distributor Cabi Holding Co. LLC.; Steve Madden Ltd’s (Nasdaq: SHOO) completed purchase or private label footwear manufacturer Schwartz & Benjamin Inc.; Catterton Partners’ acquisition of jewelry company John Hardy; women’s apparel retailer Bebe Stores Inc.’s (Nasdaq: BEBE) joint venture with Bluestar Alliance LLC to develop a wholesale licensing business based on the Bebe brand; Coach Inc.’s (NYSE: COH) acquisition of Stuart Weitzman for nearly $574 million; and DSW Inc.’s (NYSE: DSW) deal for Ebuys Inc. to expand online and into international markets.

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