Peter Sjølander, chief executive of Helly Hansen, said that the company was about to end another buoyant year, whose results might attract takeover bids as early as next year.
However, the Norwegian company insisted that it was not starting an auction and that it would gladly continue to build up its track record before any sale in the coming years.
The response came after a manager at Altor, the private equity fund that bought Helly Hansen in 2006, told the Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) last week that he would be seeking at least 2 billion Norwegian kroner (€259.0m-$337.8m) for the company, based on its current performance.
Altor reportedly bought Helly Hansen at a price of about NOK 800 million (€103.6m-$135.1m), but DN said that the acquisition price was already reimbursed by the sale of HH Pro, Helly Hansen's unit for survival and personal protection suits: It was spun off earlier this year and sold to Montagu, a private equity firm, at a reported price of NOK 800 million – roughly the same as the buying price for all of Helly Hansen five years earlier. HH Pro reaped sales of NOK 250 million (€32.4m-$42.2m) in 2010, out of a turnover of NOK 1,656 billion (€214.4m-$279.7m) for the entire group.
The company said it was on track to reach a pro forma sales increase in the range of 20 percent in constant currencies this year. Its orders for the spring have jumped by more than 15 percent and orders for the second half of 2012 are buoyant so far, in spite of the warm weather and economic turmoil in Europe. Apart from its growing sales, Helly Hansen has returned to healthy profits under its new ownership and management. It expects to reap Ebitda of about NOK 150 million (€19.4m-$25.3m) for 2011 and, based on the current situation, is confident of reaching Ebitda of more than NOK 200 million (€25.9m-$33.8m) next year. A more detailed report will follow a few weeks from now.