Industry supplier Louisville Slugger (asi/60835) announced yesterday that it has been acquired for a reported $70 million in cash by Wilson Sporting Goods, the Chicago-based manufacturer of sports equipment, apparel and accessories. Wilson Sporting Goods Co., a division of Finland-based Amer Sports Corporation, and Louisville Slugger, a division of Hillerich & Bradsby Co., signed the agreement, which has Wilson acquiring the global brand, sales and innovation rights to Louisville Slugger.
The deal, which is expected to close this summer, is pending Hillerich & Bradsby (H&B) shareholder approval. Under the terms of the agreement, H&B will become Wilson's exclusive manufacturing partner for wood bats, which they sell as corporate gifts and logoed promotional items in the ad specialty market. H&B will continue to manufacture wood bats at the company's downtown Louisville, KY, factory.
"The decision to sell the Louisville Slugger brand was a difficult and serious one to make. The Hillerich family, and those closest to the brand, firmly believes that a new business model is necessary to realize the enormous potential of this brand in the future," said John A. Hillerich IV, CEO of H&B. "We recognized from our first conversation with Wilson that they would be a great partner and steward of the brand our family created and so many have nurtured for 131 years."
Wilson will market and sell Louisville Slugger-branded products through its baseball and softball business unit, and it will maintain Louisville Slugger as a standalone brand. Wilson, which isn’t currently a listed ASI supplier, said it plans to grow the Louisville Slugger brand domestically and abroad utilizing its R&D, sourcing, distribution, and sales and marketing infrastructure.
"We are excited to welcome Louisville Slugger into the Wilson family. Growing our baseball and softball business globally is a key business strategy, and H&B has created one of the most recognizable baseball brands in the world," said Mike Dowse, president of Wilson Sporting Goods. "We believe Louisville Slugger will enrich our company significantly and ensure we are delivering only the best performance products to athletes of every age."