Fenway clinches helmet play from Chartwell

After seeing its headgear platform slip into a restructuring, New York buyout firm Chartwell has sold Bell Sports to Fenway Partners for $240m.

Fenway Partners, a New York buyout firm, is bolstering its head-protection platform through the purchase of Bell Sports for $240 million (€195 million).

Bell Sports will be merged with helmets and bike accessories company Riddell Sports Group, creating a platform with approximately $300 million in annual revenue.

Bell Sports was originally acquired by New York buyout firm Chartwell Investments in 2000 for $340 million, including $100 million in equity. But the company ran into trouble due to overleveraging and overpurchasing of inventory, according to a source. A 2003 restructuring left mezzanine lenders GarMark Partners and Wachovia Investors in control of the company, while Chartwell retained a minority stake.

Going forward, all three sellers will retain stakes in the combined company. Bill Fry, who became head of Bell Sports in 2001, will become president and chief executive officer of the combined company.

Fenway managing director Mark Genender led the acquisition for the firm.

The company makes Bell helmets for bicycles and action sports, Giro brand bicycle and snow sports helmets and Riddell brand American football helmets.

Chartwell ran into internal trouble last year when the firm’s co-founder and president Todd Berman quit after his partners discovered he had taken more than $2 million from the private equity firm’s management company for personal use.