Slideshow Why M&A pros like the Winter Olympics

Published
  • February 22 2018, 8:00am EST
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Business opportunities abound involving the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. Billions of dollars were invested in preparation for the two-week event, which features nearly 3,000 athletes from around the world. NBC paid nearly $1 billion for the broadcast rights alone. The best known Olympic athletes, including Team USA members snowboarder Shaun White and Alpine skier Lindsey Vonn, are earning millions of dollars, thanks to endorsements. The Olympics shine on a light on winter sports. In the middle market, dealmakers have been investing in companies that make a wide array of products and services for winter sports, from snowboarding to ice hockey.

Private equity firms have been buying up equipment makers for hockey, skiing and snowboarding. Falconhead Capital LLC and M3 Outdoor Investments purchased Kwik Tek Inc. Kwik Tek makes snowshoes, trekking poles and snow sleds under the Airhead, Dryopak, Sportsstuff and Yukon Charlie’s brands. Birch Hill bought the well-known CCM brand from Adidas. CCM makes hockey gloves, sticks, skates and goalie pads. The company supplies National Hockey League teams and players. Kohlberg & Co. acquired Newell Brand Inc.'s (NWL) winter sports unit for $240 million. The division sells skiis, snowboards and boots under the Völkl, K2, Marker, Dalbello, Madshus, Line, Full Tilt, Atlas, Tubbs, Ride and BCA brands. There has also been a lot of consolidation among resorts catering to winter sports, with Vail Resorts Inc. (NYSE: MTN) leading the charge, snatching up properties in British Columbia, Utah and Vermont.

With Americans Jamie Anderson, Chris Mazdzer, Chloe Kim and Arielle Gold bringing home medals, we take a look at recent deals driven by winter sports from snowboarding to figure skating.

Ski equipment

Millions of fans will be tuning in to watch Lindsey Vonn ski in the Olympics for possibly the last time. In middle market dealmaking, Falconhead Capital LLC and M3 Outdoor Investments have teamed up to purchase ski equipment supplier Kwik Tek.

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Snowboarding

Snowboarding is one of the most popular sports in the Winter Olympics, and companies in the sector are drawing buyer interest. Camping World Holdings Inc. (NYSE: CWH) purchased TheHouse.com. The target is an online retailer of snowboards and other outdoor sporting gear.

Ski equipment

In another mid-market deal, Kohlberg & Co. purchased Newell Brands Inc.'s (NYSE: NWL) winter sports unit for $240 million. The target includes the Völkl, K2, Marker, Dalbello, Madshus, Line, Full Tilt, Atlas, Tubbs, Ride and BCA brands that sell skiis, snowsboards and boots.

Ice skating

Ice hockey and figure skating are some of the biggest draws in the Winter Olympics. As far as M&A goes, Birch Hill bought the well-known CCM brand from Adidas. CCM makes hockey gloves, sticks, skates and goalie pads. The company supplies National Hockey League teams and players.

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Outdoor apparel

VF Corp. (NYSE: VFC) is buying Icebreaker Holdings. Icebreaker sells sweaters, hoodies and fleeces.

Destinations

Winter resorts have seen a lot of M&A activity of late, with Vail Resorts of Broomfield, Colorado, among the most prolific acquirers. Vail has recently bought a slew of winter resorts across the U.S., including: Utah’s Park City Mountain Resort (connecting it to the Canyons, which it already owned); British Columbia’s Whistler Blackcomb; and Vermont’s Stowe Mountain Resort.