Active Brands, the Norwegian group that owns Kari Traa, Dæhlie and several other sports and outdoor brands, is to be taken over by FSN Capital Partners, a Nordic investment fund, although existing shareholders should continue to own a material stake in the company.
The majority shareholding is to be divested by Holta Invest, a Norwegian investment firm, which should retain a stake of 20 percent in Active Brands. As part of the deal, which is subject to approval from competition authorities, Active Brands' management and founders should re-invest in the company as well.
FSN suggested in a statement that it intends to build on the strong position of Active Brands in the Nordics and to support further growth in North America and Central Europe. The firm says Active Brands has built a growing, efficient and scalable platform around a portfolio of well-established sports apparel and equipment brands.
FSN reports that Active Brands consistently outperformed the Nordic market for sporting goods by generating organic annual growth of 30 percent since 2013. With steady expansion into more international markets, the group made about 30 percent of its turnover outside of Norway in 2016. This international growth was aided by the opening of a U.S. subsidiary in Denver, Colorado two years ago.
Kari Traa is a brand of women's active wear named after a Norwegian freestyle skier, a three-time Olympic medallist. It has subsidiaries in Sweden, Finland and Denmark, and has been expanding rapidly in Germany and in the U.S. market, after the opening of the Denver office. Kari Traa has also been diversifying from winter sports into the training category, which makes up about 25 percent of its sales.
Dæhlie is the brand named after Bjørn Dæhlie, a retired Norwegian cross-country skiing champion, specializing in this category and other endurance sports. Other brands sold by Active Brands include Bula, which specializes in sports headwear, and Sweet Protection, which makes sports helmets, protective gear and functional clothing for winter sports, mountain biking and rafting. The group also features Johaug, another brand of women's winter sports and training apparel named after Therese Johaug, the Norwegian cross country skier, along with Vossatassar, a children's apparel brand, and Åsnes, a Norwegian brand focusing on backcountry skiing equipment.
Dagens Næringsliv, a Norwegian newspaper, reports that FSN acquired Active Brands for about 1 billion Norwegian kroner (€109.1m-$116.1m) and that Holta earned NOK 500 million (€54.5m-$58.1m) from the sale. Active Brands reported a turnover of about DKK 650 million (€70.9m-$75.5m) in 2015.
FSN's investment in Active Brands is to come from the FSN capital IV fund. Holta Invest is controlled by Kjetil Holta, a Norwegian businessman whose family owned the Tinfos Group, a large industrial company. Most of the money earned from the sale of Tinfos in 2008 went to real estate and the metal trade, but Holta decided to build up a large-scale sports and outdoor business in Norway.