Lafayette Mittelstand Capital, a Frankfurt-based equity investment firm, has signed an agreement for the acquisition of Kettler's assets, including the brand, the licensing rights, its intellectual property and its three factories in Germany. The closing of the deal, whose price has not been revealed, should occur in the next days, depending on various conditions.
Lafayette has agreed to retain only about 500 of the 700 people employed by the German manufacturer of fitness equipment, tennis tables, garden furniture and toys. According to the Westfalenpost, one of the clauses is the establishment by Lafayette of a temporary company for 170 employees who would continue to receive their wages for six months while training before they lose their jobs at Kettler.
A few weeks ago, Kettler was given more time to finalize the negotiations with its new owner after the failure of a previous round of discussions with a Luxembourg-based fund, Altera Capital, which led the company to file for insolvency for the second time in July.
The management informed the 700 employees of the German fitness equipment company last month that the Heinz Kettler Foundation had agreed to inject more money to keep it going until the arrival of the new investor. The foundation was set up to take over the patrimony of the company's former owner, Karin Kettler, after her sudden death last year.
Founded in 1949 by Karin's father, the late Heinz Kettler, the company still employed 1,100 persons before it ran into financial difficulties in 2015, when it filed for insolvency and sold off its bicycle operations. It currently generates annual sales of around €100 million.
Lafayette Mittelstand Capital, which specializes in supporting medium-sized enterprises, said it wants to turn Kettler into a trendier brand with the help of its current management, headed up by Olaf Bierhoff. The brand still enjoys a good reputation in the market and has potential for further development.