Paul Allen, who bought 95% of Marcus Cable for $2.78B, said he paid $2,800 per subscriber. Allen: "It's a great time to come in and find a partner and add some of my ideas to what is in the marketplace. I will finally have some wires for my wired world" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 4/7). ...Champion Products "has begun slashing 40 jobs at its Winston-Salem [NC] headquarters." Nancy Young, spokesperson for Champion's parent company Sara Lee, said the cutbacks will be completed "in the next few weeks." Champion President & CEO Mike Flatow called the cuts "part of a realignment to make operations more efficient" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 4/4)....Golden Bear Club Services entered into a golf and club management licensing agreement with Executive Sports Int'l (ESI), granting ESI the right to conduct business under that brand name (Golden Bear)....Rawlings Sporting Goods Co.'s profits "rose almost" 12% in the 2Q. Revenues were up 17% for the quarter, which ended February 28. Howard Keene, Rawlings' interim CEO said that revenue "rose in all categories but licensing" (POST-DISPATCH, 4/2).
Oakley Inc.'s "undiminished aggressiveness has already made it one of the budding turnaround stories of 1998," according to James Sterngold of the N.Y. TIMES. The company's sunglasses, which received "much free publicity at the Winter Olympics" are "staging a comeback." Oakley is also introducing "an array of technologically innovative models" -- including the Racing Jacket, Mars and Minute lines. Despite high prices -- a pair in the Mars line can run up to $265 -- the "early signs are good," and Oakley said there are already indications of strong sales in the Racing Jacket and Mars lines. In two months, Oakley will launch a sports shoe, and if it succeeds in taking "even a couple of points of market share from Nike," Sterngold wrote that it would be "icing on the cake for a company that was long regarded as better at technological pizazz than at marketing muscle." Francis Gannon, a Portfolio Manager at Sun America Asset, which owns about 250,000 shares of Oakley stock: "Very few people have seen the shoe. But given [Oakley's] record, the shoe is the kicker to the story. The new products in their core sunglasses business will carry them, and the shoe, if it does O.K., could really propel them." BT Alex. Brown analyst Marcia Aaron said Oakley has "upgraded management and they've gone from being a hard-core sports company to more, I hate to use the 'F' word, of a fashion company." Aaron said that she expects Oakley stock to reach $15 per share within six months (N.Y. TIMES, 4/5). O' CANADA: Oakley has acquired its Canadian distributor's Oakley division and will rename it Oakley Canada Inc. Financial terms were not disclosed (Oakley).
N.Y.-based Family Golf Centers has agreed to acquire Eagle Qwest Golf Center Inc, the nation's second-largest owner, operator and manager of driving ranges for shares worth "about" $46.1M, according to Alan Wax of DOW JONES NEWS. Vancouver-based Eagle Qwest owns 18 golf centers in N.A. and has signed letters of intent to acquire eight more, while Family Golf owns or is constructing 76 centers in 19 states. Under terms of the deal, expected to close in the 3Q, Family Golf will issue "approximately" 1.15 million shares of its stock. Family Golf Chair & CEO Dominic Chang said Eagle Qwest's locations "perfectly complement" his company's regional concentration in the Northeast, Southeast, Upper Midwest and West (DOW JONES/NEWSDAY, 4/3). LINKS: Vancouver-based ski resort developer Intrawest plans to buy a 95% stake in AZ-based Raven Gold Group, which owns two upscale public golf courses and has management contracts for three more in the U.S., according to Peter Kennedy of the FINANCIAL POST. The other 5% of the company will be retained by Raven's Owner-Operator Larry Lippon, who will become President of Raven/Intrawest Golf Group. Intrawest said the deal "gives it the management and expertise to pursue growth in the golf resort business." Acquisition prices were not disclosed (FINANCIAL POST, 4/6).