Bauer to buy Cascade Helmets for $64 million

Wed Jun 13, 2012 5:49pm EDT
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Ice-hockey and lacrosse equipment maker Bauer Performance Sports Ltd BAU.TO said on Wednesday it will buy Cascade Helmets Holdings, a privately held U.S. maker of lacrosse helmets, for $64 million cash.

The deal, expected to close later this month, will also give Bauer - the world's biggest maker of hockey gear - control of Cascade's recently established hockey helmet business.

Bauer, which is credited with creating the modern hockey skate, said Cascade's M11 helmet, which was co-developed with former National Hockey League star Mark Messier, has been well received.

"The acquisition of Cascade increases our presence in North America's fastest-growing team sport (lacrosse), and allows us to expand our product offering in our core hockey business," Bauer Chief Executive Kevin Davis said in a statement.

Bauer said it expects the acquisition to immediately add to its bottom line as Cascade's profit margins are about twice as large as its own. Bauer's shares closed 6 Canadian cents higher at C$8.06 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Wednesday.

Founded in Kitchener, Ontario, Bauer developed the first skate with a blade attached to the boot, an innovation credited with changing the game of hockey. The company, which dates back to the 1920s, was owned for about a decade by U.S. sporting goods giant Nike Inc (NKE.N: Quote) before being sold to private equity firm Kohlberg & Co in 2008. It was taken public via an initial public offering in 2011.

Bauer plans to use Cascade's head-protection technologies and build on its partnership with Messier to improve player safety through product-development and awareness initiatives, the company said.

The company plans to expand its manufacturing capabilities for lacrosse and hockey helmets by also producing Bauer-branded hockey helmets at Cascade's existing facility in Liverpool, New York.

A slew of concussions in the National Hockey League this year has shone a spotlight on injury concerns in the sport. With many of the game's best players, including Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, sidelined by concussions.   Continued...