NIKE SELLS UMBRO SOCCER UNIT

Iconix Brand Group Inc. agreed to acquire Nike Inc.’s Umbro sports apparel and footwear unit for $225 million in cash.

The deal is expected to close by the end of the year, New York-based Iconix said in a statement. Nike bought Umbro, which was founded in 1924, in 2008 for about 302 million pounds ($483.7 million), according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The sale is part of Nike Chief Executive Officer Mark Parker’s push to focus on the business units with the most growth potential and profitability. Nike, based in Beaverton, Oregon, previously announced it’s also trying to sell its Cole Haan unit of dress-shoe stores.

Nike rose 0.1 percent to $92.89 at the close in New York. The shares have lost 3.6 percent this year.

The deal will end one of the many acquisitions that hasn’t panned out for the world’s largest maker of sporting goods. Nike has also bought and then sold the Starter apparel brand and Canstar Sports Inc., maker of Bauer hockey gear. The one bright spot has been Converse, which has flourished under Nike’s control.

Back in 2008, Umbro appeared to be a good fit because it gave Nike more customers in Europe as it tried to reach its goal of surpassing Adidas as the world’s largest soccer company.

Umbro also had a long-standing deal with the England national soccer team to supply its uniforms. In a statement announcing the deal, Parker touted the new relationship as a “dynamic alignment” that would make Nike the world leader in soccer.

Nike announced this morning it will sell its Umbro affiliate brand to Iconix Brand Group, Inc., for $225 million. The transaction is expected to be complete by the end of this year.

Nike announced May 31 it planned to sell Umbro, a soccer equipment brand, and dress shoe brand Cole Haan. The company said the sales were planned “to focus on driving growth in the Nike, Jordan, Converse and Hurley brands.”

“It is a difficult decision to divest any business,” Nike chief executive Mark Parker said in a statement, “but this action wil enable us to focus on our highest-potential growth opportunities.

“Umbro has a great heritage, but ultimately, as our category strategy has evolved, we believe Nike Football can serve the needs of footballers both on and off the pitch.”

Nike recently announced it had signed England’s national soccer team to a footwear and apparel deal. The announcement was curious as Umbro had been the team’s supplier for years and that partnership had been perceived as one of the selling points for Umbro.

“Umbro is a true, authentic football brand with a global loyal consumer fan base,” Neal Cole, chief executive of Iconix Brand Group said in a statement, “and we are thrilled to be adding it to our portfolio of iconic brands.

“Umbro is an exciting acquisition with more than 30 licensees in over 100 countries with a devout following. We look forward to working with our international partners to maintain and expand upon the rich heritage of Umbro.”

Nike announced Umbro’s purchase in October 2007 and completed it in 2008 for $582 million cash. The purchase was the first and only acquisition for Parker, named chief executive in January 2006.

Umbro’s revenue declined about 19 percent, from $224 million to $276 million, between 2006 and 2011 because of its lesser role in the competition between Nike and Adidas soccer brands, Credit Suisse analyst Christian Buss wrote when the Umbro and Cole Haan sales plans were announced.

At that time, Nike said the sale of the brands was expected before the end of the company’s fiscal year, which is May 31, 2013.

Nike purchased Cole Haan in 1988 for $80 million plus the repayment of $15 million in debt for the New York-based company.

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