Sports deal for Bridgepoint

Bridgepoint has realised its investment in Longoni Sports through a EURO76 million trade sale to Giacomelli Sports. Bridgepoint led the buyout of the Italian sports retailer in November 1999, purchasing 67 per cent of the capital through an equity investment of EURO12 million. The return is understood to be in excess of three times the money invested.

Longoni specialises in sporting equipment, particularly for mountain sports, cycling, sub-aqua and keep fit. Gabriella Spada, chairman of Giacomelli, said: “The strategic importance of the acquisition of Longoni is tied to the significant synergies created by the two distribution chains resulting in considerable advantages for the Giacomelli Group as a whole and eliminating a crucial growth opportunity for both Italian and foreign competitors.” A bond offering of EURO100 million, launched by Giacomelli last March, will finance the acquisition.

Sergio Longoni, who retained a 25 per cent stake at the time of the buyout, founded Longoni Sport in 1970. Under Bridgepoint’s ownership the chain expanded from 12 sales outlets in Lombardy, which represents 25 per cent of the Italian market, to 22 stores. The group employs 700 staff and has annual sales of EURO132 million. It has not yet been decided whether the Longoni stores will be rebranded.

Rimini-based Giacomelli Sports is listed on the STAR segment of the Borsa Italiana. Following the acquisition of Longoni the company will have 139 stores spread across Poland, Spain, France, Belgium, Hungary, Portugal, Germany, Estonia and the Czech Republic as well as Italy. Giacomelli has annual sales exceeding EURO500 million, including a 14.6 per cent share of the Italian sporting goods market. As well as the Giacomelli Sport stores and the website of the same name the group also operates the Xspot chain.

Advisors on the deal include BNP Paribas, Studio NCTM, Studio Camozzi & Bonissoni, and KPMG for Bridgepoint. Advising Giacomelli were Euromobiliare Corporate Finance, Studio Carnelutti and Deloitte & Touche.