Cerberus leads Italian sportswear buyout

The New York-based distressed investment firm is to acquire Italian sportswear company Fila in a $351m deal.

(PrivateEquityCentral.net) New York-based distressed investment specialist Cerberus Capital Management has acquired Fila Holding, an Italian manufacturer of footwear and apparel for sport and leisurewear, from Holding di Partecipazioni Industriali (HdP) as an add-on acquisition to portfolio company Sport Brands International in a $351m transaction.


HdP is selling out of its entire 91 per cent position in Biella-based Fila, which includes the Fila Nederland, Fila Sport, Ciesse Piumini, and Fila USA units. The transaction is expected to close by the end of June, subject to customary conditions.


Cerberus, through Sport Brands, will also assume all financial debt incurred by Fila since January 1, and of all of the Fila’s trade debt. As of December 31, 2002, Fila’s consolidated financial debt was E295m.


After the closing of the sale, and in any circumstances within 6 months, HdP will offer to purchase all Fila 8.6m ordinary shares and American Depositary Shares not currently owned by HdP at a price of $1.12 per Fila ordinary share/American Depositary Share. The offer price has been established on the basis of advice received by HdP from Merrill Lynch.


The offer, when launched, will be conducted by HdP with the aim to take Fila private and to turn it later to new activities and investments within strategic sectors.


Cerberus Capital Management manages funds of approximately $8bn and is currently raising its latest fund, Cerberus Institutional Partners LP, Series Two, which is targeted at $500m.


Earlier this year, Cerberus agreed to commit $186m in financing to back the MBO of Texas oil exploration company Exco Resources. Late last year, Cerberus was part of a group of investors including Fortress Investment Group and JC Flowers that acquired Conseco Finance Corp from bankrupt insurance and lending giant Conseco.


Meanwhile, it is also being reported that Softbank is expected to sell its 49 per cent stake in Aozora Bank to Cerberus instead of Sumitomo Mitsui.