Arena Changes Hands as Swiss-Based Capvis Buys Brand From Riverside Company

TOLENTINO, Italy, December 23. THE three diamonds are changing hands as Swiss-based private equity firm Capvis has purchased the Arena brand from the Riverside Company, with the sale still pending antitrust approval. While no specifics on the price of the sale have been made public, Bloomberg has valued Arena at more than $400 million.

Arena has seen its fair share of ownership changes. In 1973, Horst Dassler founded the brand with plenty of experience as the son of the founder of Adidas and nephew of the founder of Puma. In 1990, Arena was brought back into the family as Adidas purchased the brand.

Most recently, Riverside bought Arena in 2010 from BS Private Equity and has since made a significant push into the United States market with a huge emphasis on sales in the States along with title sponsorship of the Arena Grand Prix series and National Team exposure opportunities.

“Today is an exciting day for Arena USA and we look forward to working with our new partners at Capvis,” ArenaUSA Vice President Tim McCool said. “It speaks strongly to a company’s growth potential, brand value and future to have commanded such overwhelming interest from the investment community and this sale is a very positive step for Arena both internationally and in the USA. It’s important to note that today’s news in no way changes our relationship with USA Swimming, one of our 18 sponsored federations. Arena remains under the leadership of its international CEO Cristiano Portas, and we will retain the same management teams both in the U.S. and abroad. Together, we remain committed to and excited about our partnership with USA Swimming and to working together to elevate the sport of swimming in the U.S.”

Arena has also continued to grow globally, with the likes of Swimming World’s European Swimmer of the Year Katinka Hosszu acting as one of their top brand ambassadors in Europe.

“We are enthusiastic about our new shareholder Capvis who has the same vision for our brand and who shares our passion and determination for working hard to achieve great things,” Arena CEO Cristian Portas said. “We welcome Capvis as our new partner and look forward to working together on becoming the market leader for competitive waterwear and promoting aquatic sports globally.”

According to its public relations material:

Capvis is the leading private equity firm in Switzerland and one of the most active investors in German-speaking Europe. With a current fund with a volume of EUR 600 million, Capvis invests primarily in leading medium-sized companies. Capvis aims to support management teams in releasing entrepreneurial potential and achieving new levels of excellence. Since 1990 Capvis has completed 44 transactions with a total volume of more than EUR 5 billion. Capvis has floated nine companies on stock exchanges and has repeatedly been voted Switzerland’s and 2013 also Germany’s best private equity firm by the international financial press.

“As a global champion in its niche, Arena perfectly fits the Capvis investment strategy,” Capvis partner Andreas Simon said. “Propelled by innovation and uncompromising commitment to the sport of swimming and the brand visibility powering its surge worldwide, Arena is uniquely positioned in one of the most popular sports categories. Arena’s brand equity, validated from premier teams and organizations, offers significant value creation potential. We have followed the company and its management for years and are thrilled to power off the blocks with them, in the true sense of the word.”

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