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From the ashes of ANA, Alta Cycling emerges

KENT, Wash. (BRAIN) — Take notice: When a European conglomerate says one of its business units is “noncore,” read: “Make us an offer” and reach for your wallet.

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Late last year, Amer Sports and Accell Group N.V. let it be known publicly that they were in possession of some brands they could do without.

Finland-based Amer, best known for its Salomon and Arc’teryx brands, declared its Mavic division “under review” last September and said it no longer considered cycling part of its core business.

Holland’s Accell, owner of bike brands from Batavus to Winora, announced a similar relationship with its North American business late last year, declaring Accell North America “a separate and focused entity” that would henceforth be considered “noncore” in its financial reports.

Regent LP, a 6-year-old Los Angeles-based private equity firm, stepped right up. The firm took Mavic off Amer’s hands in July, after agreeing to buy it in March. Less than a month later, it bought most of the assets of Accell North America, including three of its bike brands: Diamondback, Redline and IZIP.

Regent specializes in buying brands that had been “de-prioritized” by their parent, said David Steinhafel, a principal and portfolio manager at Regent.

“The common thread of every business we’ve acquired is that they have been sort of left on the sidelines by their former parent companies,” he told BRAIN.

Mavic not part of Alta

Regent formed Alta Cycling Group to contain the former ANA assets. Mavic (headquartered in France, with a U.S. office in Utah) will remain a separate entity from Alta (which has a two-year lease on ANA’s now-former headquarters in Kent).

“We will continue to run these businesses (Mavic and Alta) as stand-alone operating groups in their respective domains” — David Steinhafel, Regent LP principal

Regent hired about 40 of ANA’s former employees. ANA had about 60 employees at the time of the sale. Prior to the sale it had let go a handful of employees when it closed its Simi Valley e-bike facility at the end of July.

“We will continue to run these businesses (Mavic and Alta) as stand-alone operating groups in their respective domains,” Steinhafel said.

Those not joining Alta include John Short, ANA’s CEO since 2018, and Stuart Johnson, ANA’s chief marketing and digital officer.

Lars Vicksen, who was ANA’s CFO, joined Alta as general manager. Tyler Stetson, ANA’s head of operations, joined as its VP of supply chain and operations. Larry Pizzi, a longtime ANA executive, is now chief commercial officer of Alta.

Pizzi said Alta would be rolling out its 2020 model year dealer programs Tuesday.

“For the most part it’s business as usual,” he said. Alta will continue the omnichannel approach ANA has taken in recent years.

“It’s been working quite well,” he said. “We’ll continue to focus on ensuring consumers have the option of buying how they want. And we’ve developed great relationships with a bunch of retailers who embrace the process.”

The art of the $1 deal

Regent paid just $1 to Accell for the ANA assets, but Accell could ultimately recover as much as $15 million in earnouts if the business reaches certain targets in coming years.

“Given the state of the business as it was on Day 1, that’s why real dollars were not involved,” Steinhafel said.

Alta acquired rights to the three brands globally, with the exception of Canada, where Canadian Tire bought those rights from Accell earlier this year. Alta also has a two-year renewable contract with Accell to distribute the other Accell brands that are currently sold in the U.S.: Raleigh, Haibike, and Ghost.

Regent did not acquire Beeline, the retail software company (formerly a mobile service franchers) that ANA purchased in March 2018.

Pizzi said Beeline’s future is still under negotiation.

“Our belief is that Beeline will continue to operate as an entity unto itself and continue working with us in the same way they have. … But there are still some conversations to be had around what will ultimately happen,” Pizzi said. He said ANA, still on the books as a corporate entity, continues to own Beeline.

No timeline

Since its formation in 2013, Regent has made investments in dozens of consumer product and media brands with total revenues of well over $1 billion, Steinhafel said. He said the firm does not have investments from outside funds.

“What that means is that we don’t have to rely on other investors’ timing mandates. Typically they acquire then they try to sell in three-to-five years. Our strategy is much more long term,” he said.

Steinhafel is a road, gravel and mountain bike rider and racer. “For me as a cycling enthusiast I’d love to be working with these companies for the rest of my career,” he said.

He said with both Mavic and Alta, streamlining the wholesale buying process is key.

“We have the resources to continue to acquire more or less anything that comes across our desk” — David Steinhafel, Regent LP principal

“One thing I’ve heard consistently is that we make doing business with Mavic very hard. We are going to look at how we can remove all friction from that channel and make a B2B platform that is best in class, with zero obstacles. And with that comes great customer service,” he said.

He also said Regent is still in an acquisitive mode and reviews thousands of opportunities each year.

“We have the resources to continue to acquire more or less anything that comes across our desk,” he said. “It’s tough for us to continue to invest in smaller companies, so if we were to acquire something else (in cycling), it would have to be a very strategic fit or something of the size and scale to benefit the rest of the portfolio.”

A version of this article appears in the September issue of BRAIN. Watch for an interview with Enve’s managing director in our October issue, where he will discuss life as part of Amer without Mavic, and Amer’s new Chinese owner, Anta.

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