Helly Hansen, the Norwegian sports and outdoor brand, has changed hands again. Altor Equity Partners, the Norwegian investment firm that took over Helly Hansen in 2006 from Investcorp, has sold a stake of 75 percent to the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board (OTPP), while retaining the remainder of its shares. Managers of Helly Hansen still hold an unspecified stake in the company.
The price of the transaction was not publicized, but it reportedly valued the entire company at about 2 billion Norwegian kroner (€270m-$330m). Altor reportedly acquired Helly Hansen at a price of about NOK 800 million (€107m-$131m), at a time when the company was loss-making. Early last year, Altor divested HH Pro, Helly Hansen's unit for survival and personal protection suits. It was sold to Montagu Private Equity for a price estimated in the same range as the price that Altor had paid for the entire company.
Altor started discussing a sale of Helly Hansen after the company returned to growth and profits, under the leadership of Peter Sjølander, a former Nike official who became its chief executive shortly after the acquisition. Helly Hansen reached a turnover of NOK 1,576 million last year (€211.1m-$258.3m), which was an increase of 17 percent. Its comparable Ebitda, excluding the survival unit divested early last year, soared by about 50 percent to some NOK 145 million (€19.4m-$23.8m).
Altor said that the OTPP's contacts in the North American market for consumer products would enable it to draw board members with insights into that business. Extra financial resources would also be useful as Helly Hansen is preparing a new plan for its expansion in the next five years.
Altor added that it was eager to keep a stake in Helly Hansen, as it strongly believed in the Norwegian brand's further development. The company's managers have repeatedly stated that they wanted to build Helly Hansen into a brand with sales of one billion dollars – a target that was reaffirmed after the sale.
With assets reaching $117.1 billion at the end of last year, the OTPP is an independent organization that administers the pensions of about 300,000 active and retired teachers in the Canadian state of Ontario.