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Fenway Partners to Buy Bike Helmet Maker Bell

August 13, 2004|From Bloomberg News

Fenway Partners Inc. said Thursday that it had agreed to buy Bell Sports Corp. -- the maker of bicycle helmets worn by six-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong -- for about $240 million to become the largest maker of sports helmets.

Fenway, a buyout firm with offices in New York and Los Angeles, is purchasing Bell from an investor group that includes GarMark Partners, Wachovia Investors Inc. and Chartwell Investors.

The transaction will merge Bell, maker of Giro and Bell helmets for bike riders, with Riddell Sports Group, the largest supplier of helmets to the National Football League. The combined company will have 2004 revenue of about $300 million and make more than 8 million helmets, said Tim Mayhew, Fenway Partners managing director.

"This is a merger of strengths in a sense," Mayhew said.

The new firm will be based in Irving, Texas, where Bell is based. It will have a sales office in Chicago and a research and development facility in Santa Cruz, Fenway spokesman Alan Oshiki said.

No job cuts are expected, Mayhew said.

The market for sports helmets has increased with the number of activities that require protective headwear, said Mike May, spokesman for the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Assn. in North Palm Beach, Fla.

Fenway, a privately held company based in New York City, purchased Riddell in July 2003 for $100 million. Merging Bell and Riddell reunites businesses that were part of the same company until 1984.

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