Signa Sports United (SSU), the online sporting goods retailing group controlled by Signa Retail, is in talks to go public through a merger with a blank-check SPAC company, Reuters reported. Quoting “two people familiar with the matter,” the news agency says the company is in preliminary talks with Yucaipa Acquisition Corp. and is working with several banks, including Citigroup, on a potential transaction.
The deal could value SSU at up to $4 billion, said Reuters. It sounds like a lot of money for a company whose sales were last reported at €420 million for the financial year ended in September 2018. We have been unable to obtain more recent figures from a spokesperson for the group, but SSU’s website mentions an annual turnover of more than €1 billion, with a compound annual growth rate of 30 percent, boasting that it has become ”the global #1 sports commerce & tech platform with market leading positions in Bike, Tennis, Outdoor, Teamsports & Athleisure.”
A SPAC is a company that is formed strictly to raise capital through an initial public offering (IPO) for the purpose of acquiring an existing private firm. SPACs are also known as “blank check companies.”
The same sources told Reuters that Signa is also nearing a deal to buy Wiggle, the British online retailer specializing in cycling, running and swimming products, from Bridgepoint. There is no guarantee at this stage that the deals will materialize, they added. Wiggle has made several acquisitions in the last years, including the German Bike 24 online retail operation.
Based in Berlin, SUU operates more than 80 web shops in the cycling, outdoor and racquet sports segments in 17 countries. It runs bicycle online shops like Fahrrad.de, Bikester and Probikeshop, and is the owner of product brands in the bike sector like Ortler, Serious, Fixie and Votec. It also owns the outdoor retailers Campz and Addnature, the growing online tennis platform Tennis-Point, and the team sports and athleisure shops Outfitter and Stylefile.
SSU says its web stores are currently connecting more than 1,000 brand partners and more than 500 independent offline retailers with more than 15 million members of the digital sports community.
Three years ago, Signa Retail was said to be considering a possible IPO for its sports retail operations, which at the time consisted of Signa Sports United and Karstadt Sports, targeting a valuation of €1.2 billion for the business, which has expanded considerably since then.
New executive appointments at SSU
Meanwhile, SSU announced five new appointments to its leadership team, which is run by Stephan Zoll, indicating that the move is intended to provide “unmatched customer and client service” in order to accelerate the company’s growth strategy and its international expansion.
Alex Johnstone will be the company’s new chief financial officer. He will be responsible for financial reporting, capital markets, treasury and investor relations, which indicates to us that SSU may well be preparing itself for a public offering. He has been a member of Citi’s TMT investment banking group for more than ten years, and he relocated last year from New York to London.
Another new hire, Simone Kreyer, will serve as chief of staff, responsible for the strategic direction and coordination of the company’s platform businesses. After spending some time at McKinsey & Co., she headed up most recenty Amazon’s retail hardlines operations and initiatives in Germany, driving top- and bottom-line programs across the European Union.
Dorit Schindler, who most recently served as director of people & organization at Zalando, will be the new ”chief people officer” at SUU, handling human resources across the group. SSU mentioned her experience in many areas including strategy, organizational change, communication, and talent identification and development.
After spending five years as managing director of Tennis-Point, Sascha Beyer will relocate from Europe to the U.S. to serve as chairman and president of a new subsidiary, Tennis-Point North America, following the company’s recent acquisition of Midwest Sports. Taking over some of his responsibilities, Bernhard Kloth will join the group from Alix Partners to jointly run the European operations of Tennis-Point alongside its founder, Christian Miele.
SSU said it will continue to evaluate attractive entry points in new geographies across its vertical operations. It entered the Japanese market a few years ago in partnership with AEON. At the end 2018, AEON and Central Group of Thailand acquired stakes of 7.5 percent and 4 percent in SSU, respectively.