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Merckx Selling Majority Interest

Published October 24, 2008

CHARLOTTE, NC (BRAIN)—Bicycling Legend Eddy Merckx is selling majority interest of his bicycle manufacturing company, but will still retain an unknown amount of minority shares.

Merckx, 63, will sell the majority shares of his business to Sobradis, a Belgian holding company, run by chief executive officer Pieter Vansynghel and chief operating officer Sven Goeminne.

“He will remain active in the company,” said Sandy Nicholls, marketing director for Gita Sporting Goods, distributor of the Merckx brand. “But now he’s going to be freed up from the day-to-day business of things.” Gita Sporting Goods has been distributing the Merckx brand in the United States since 1985.

Nicholls said he was surprised by the decision, yet at the same time “he’s talked about this in the past.” When Nicholls spoke to Merckx shortly after the announcement was made, Merckx assured Nicholls that it would be business as usual for the company, and that Merckx “sounded upbeat” about his decision.

“From the end consumer standpoint, they shouldn’t notice any changes at all,” Nicholls said.

The brand has been doing well as of late, creating some buzz at Interbike with two new frames and one complete offering. Nicholls said the brand had been “down the last couple of years” with some product delivery issues from the Merckx factory, but that that has been “straightened out.”

Merckx started the small factory in Belgium upon his retirement from professional cycling in 1980. Merckx set several cycling records during his career including professional victories at 525 and most victories in one season at 54.

His son, Axel, is in Canada, and will be running Lance Armstrong's developmental team.

—Jason Norman

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