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Head Sport agrees to buy most ASE assets for $22M

Published January 17, 2019

DURHAM, N.C. (BRAIN) — At a bankruptcy auction Wednesday, Head Sport — a European sports company best known for its skis and tennis rackets — agreed to purchase most of the assets of Advanced Sports Enterprises for $21.5 million. The agreement is subject to court approval later this month.

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Head is an Amsterdam-registered company that manufactures ski, tennis, swim and other sports products and licenses its name to suppliers in other industries. The corporate name of the purchaser is HTM USA HOLDINGS, LLC, a division of HTM Sport GmbH, which is based in Austria. HTM owns HEAD Sport GmbH.

Head dates to 1950, when it was founded by Howard Head, an innovator in the use of metal in skis and tennis rackets. Howard Head sold the company to AMF in the late 1960s and HTM later bought the brand. HTM is owned by Swedish/British billionaire Johan Eliasch.

ASE's Karen Bliss said Head agreed to purchase most of the assets, including some Performance Bicycle stores. "We don't know their intentions for the assets," Bliss, ASE's Chief Marketing Officer, told BRAIN. "It's a big deal."

The auction began at 10 a.m. Wednesday and didn't end until about 2 a.m. Thursday. Those present said that representatives from Ideal Bike, Dick's Sporting Goods, and Walmart's Moosejaw division were at the auction, although it's not clear if any of those companies made bids. 

Head licenses its trademark for use on bikes and many other items. Licensees include NOVUS BIKE S.r.o. of the Czech Republic, which sells Head-branded bikes in several markets. Cycle Force Group, based in Iowa, has the U.S. license for Head bikes. 

Nyle Nims, the president of Cycle Force Group, told BRAIN he has been licensing the Head name for more than five years and has found the company a pleasure to work with. He said he was unaware until Thursday that Head had bought the assets. 

"My impression is they will keep this intact," Nims said. "They are very loyal to the independent retailer: that is the core of their business (with tennis and ski products) ... I think this will be a great move for the employees of ASE and the whole Fuji dealer network."

ASE is the parent company of Performance and brands including Fuji, SE Bikes, Kestrel, and Breezer. It filed for bankruptcy on Nov. 16, listing debts of more than $100 million. It has been running liquidation sales at Performance stores since soon after the filing. Last week, Specialized Bicycle agreed to buy the Roubaix bike trademark for the U.S. from ASE for $700,000.

The court will consider the asset purchase agreements from Head and Specialized at a hearing on Jan. 22, and if approved the sales will be closed immediately after that hearing. The deadline for objections to the sale is Jan. 21 at 4 p.m. ET.

More information: ASE Bankruptcy | Head.com/us-US/about.

Topics associated with this article: ASE Bankruptcy

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