August 24, 2016 / 1:57 PM / 3 years ago

Performance Sports ex-chairman may bid for hockey-gear maker

TORONTO/NEW YORK (Reuters) - The former chairman of Performance Sports Group Ltd PSG.TO, Graeme Roustan, told Reuters he has hired investment banks Jefferies Group LLC and Canaccord Genuity to explore a possible bid for the troubled maker of hockey gear.

He disclosed his plans on Wednesday, a day after Reuters reported that the sporting equipment maker has hired investment bank Centerview Partners Holdings LLC to help it negotiate with lenders to avoid defaulting on its loans.

Roustan said he believes he can turn around the money-losing company, which is under investigation by securities regulators in the United States and Canada. The company is conducting an internal investigation into its accounting practices, which has delayed the release of its annual report.

“Should there be an opportunity that becomes available through any kind of process, I’ll be the first in line to make an offer,” Roustan said in an interview. “I believe that my ownership involvement is not behind me.”

Shares in the company fell as much as 5.6 percent in early morning trade.

Performance Sports, Jefferies and Canaccord Genuity did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Founded in Kitchener, Ontario, Performance Sports developed the first skate with a blade attached to the boot, an innovation credited with changing the game of hockey. It also makes Easton baseball bats and was previously called Bauer, the brand of its popular hockey gear.

Its shares lost half their market value after warning last week it might default on its loans due to the delay in filing its annual report.

It slashed its full-year earnings forecast in June, citing a downturn in baseball and softball markets.

Roustan told Reuters in January he was looking to wage a proxy battle or take the company private at a premium to its stock price, then at C$12.36, if the company did not abandon plans to open its own stores. He said the move would pit the company against its own customers.

Roustan sued accounting firm Grant Thornton earlier this year for breach of contract and defamation in connection with a survey of the company’s strategy, according to a claim filed in a Canadian court. The lawsuit is ongoing.

The company, which was founded in the 1920s, was owned for about a decade by sporting goods giant Nike Inc (NKE.N) before being sold to Roustan and private equity firm Kohlberg & Co in 2008. It went public in 2011.

Reporting by John Tilak in Toronto and Jessica DiNapoli in New York; Editing by Jim Finkle and Jeffrey Benkoe

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