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Advantage Int'l announced that UK-based sports marketing group Orbit Int'l, which is part of the Lowe Group, will merge with Advantage UK in October '97. Orbit Chair Ian Wight, who will join the Board of Advantage UK: "Fortunately there are no client conflicts in the UK." Orbit's clients include British Airways (Advantage).
Spalding Sports Worldwide, backed by its parent, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., "is interested in buying all of" Ben Hogan Co., including its golf-ball manufacturing plant in OH, according to Lynn Henning of GOLFWEEK. But Henning writes that a "bidding war has emerged," as CA-based Taylor Made Golf Co., "which plans to enter the golf-ball market soon, is interested in buying only the [OH] operations as a manufacturing facility for its new line of golf balls;" and FL-based Edwin Watts Golf Shops, the off- course retail chain, "wants only the club-manufacturing end of Hogan as a means for adding a premier name to its in- house golf club sales." Hogan Co. is owned by VA-based businessman Bill Goodwin, who bought the company five years ago for $61M, but a "stark indicator of how far Hogan has fallen is its likely" '97 selling price, "which may not significantly surpass" $20M (GOLFWEEK, 9/20 issue).
The athletic shoe industry was examined by Charlie Pellett of "Bloomberg Business News." Pellett reported that with "over" 43% of the U.S. sneaker market, "at this time it is unlikely that any one company will gain enough momentum to catch Nike." Shelby Cullom Davis' Peter Russ: "They have a lead that seems sustainable. They continue to redefine what the market is, and how their product should be viewed by the consumer. And as long they continue to redefine it in ways that their competition haven't done, they can maintain their lead." Pellett: "It's possible adidas is the only sneaker maker running with the ball ... Some analysts feel adidas is now poised to grow in the all-important American market." As teenagers "seem less interested" in white sneakers, Pellett added that producers of brown shoes, such as Wolverine World Wide and Timberland "may score a touchdown in the last quarter of '97. ... If these and other adverse trends continue, it's unlikely even a slam dunk from Michael Jordan will save the industry" ("BBN," PBS, 9/22).