Norman Jumps In Full Force With MacGregor

With the golf industry ever-evolving I had expected that there may be a few sell-offs and acquisitions in the off-season and if fact, it has already begun.

Yesterday, MacGregor CEO Barry Schneider and famed golfer Greg Norman addressed the media in a teleconference to discuss their new business arrangement.

The 109 year-old golf equipment manufacturer has acquired the Greg Norman Collection Apparel business (GNC), a company that Norman helped establish alongside partner Reebok in 1992. Reebok was acquired by adidas Group not too long ago.

The deal will also see Norman make a large investment in MacGregor Golf. The terms were not disclosed, it was simply stated that it was a “significant” investment.

The two companies, with combined annual sales of more than $150 million, will be operated post-closing on a consolidated basis with MacGregor Golf’s CEO, Barry Schneider, and Norman controlling a majority of the shares.

“The real winner in this transaction is the golf consumer. Greg Norman is totally engaged in this business, and his unique talent and uncompromising approach will make us a better company,” said Barry Schneider, Chairman and CEO of MacGregor Golf . “We do not want to be the biggest golf company in the world, only the best. This transaction is another step down that strategic path.”

Norman will serve on the MacGregor Golf Board of Directors and will take on a proactive role with sales and marketing, product development and international distribution.

“I have experienced the benefits of Cup Face 360 technology, and believe in the vision Barry has laid out for MacGregor Golf,” said Greg Norman. “And I feel a tremendous sense of pride and gratification in acquiring a significant ownership stake in the brand that bears my name,” Norman said. “Greg Norman Collection has exceeded my expectations over the years, and I am looking forward to working with the existing management team to build on the momentum we have established.”

MacGregor Golf and Greg Norman Collection will maintain their independence with corporate offices in Albany, GA, New York, NY and Canton, MA, respectively. Reid Gorman will continue to serve as President of MacGregor Golf while Suzy Bisantz will remain as President and Chief Executive Officer of Greg Norman Collection.

JPMorgan advised MacGregor Golf on the transaction, which is expected to close during Q4, 2006. Financial details will not be disclosed.

Will this be a boon for either company? That remains to be seen but the addition of Greg Norman in a larger role should add strength to the efforts of Schneider to grow the MacGregor brand. The 2007 GNC Collection has been well received by the buyers I have spoken with and that may help the company to get more MacGregor products on the shelves at retailers where sales have not been as brisk as the company would probably like.

One thing is certain – don’t expect this to be the last merger/acquisition deal in the golf industry in the next 6 months. Whether those deals can help some storied brands to stay alive remains to be seen.

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