Bauer to buy Easton-Bell’s baseball and softball business for US$330 million

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TORONTO – Sports equipment company Bauer Performance Sports Ltd. (TSX:BAU) has signed a deal to buy the baseball and softball business of Easton-Bell Sports for US$330 million.

The deal gives Bauer, best known for its hockey equipment, one of the biggest names in baseball and softball.

“The combination of the No. 1 brand in hockey and the No. 1 brand in diamond sports is a perfect example of our ability to enhance our performance sports platform,” said Kevin Davis, president and chief executive at Bauer Performance Sports.

“Our existing business is built on a heritage of investing in game-changing research and development, intellectual property, authentic brands and strong consumer connections. The Easton baseball/softball business is a perfect fit for our overall platform.”

Shares in Bauer, which said it expects the deal will immediately add to the company’s adjusted earnings per share, closed up C$1.11 at C$14.18 on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The company is headquartered in Exeter, N.H.

“Just as we have done in our hockey business, we expect to increase Easton’s current 28 per cent market share in diamond sports by accelerating investment in product development and more strongly connecting with consumers,” Davis said.

Under the deal announced Thursday, Bauer will own the Easton brand name and the baseball and softball business which will continue to operate out of Van Nuys, Calif., and Salt Lake City, Utah.

However, Easton-Bell Sports will be allowed to continue to use the Easton name in hockey and cycling under a license agreement.

The companies also agreed to settle a legal fight over patents held by Bauer Hockey.

In addition to its hockey business, Bauer’s other brands include Maverik Lacrosse, Mission Roller Hockey, Cascade Helmets, jersey maker Inaria and Combat, a maker of baseball and softball gear.

Easton-Bell owns football equipment company Riddel, helmet maker Bell and the Giro and Blackburn sports equipment brands.

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