SBD/June 10, 2011/Finance

Paul Fireman Gets Back Into Running Shoe Biz With Colorado Company

Fireman sold Reebok five years ago to adidas for $3.8B
Reebok Founder Paul Fireman is "jumping back into the running-shoe business, with an investment of close to $20 million in a Colorado sneaker maker that aims to capitalize on the industry’s biggest innovation in decades: shoes that mimic barefoot running," according to Beth Healy of the BOSTON GLOBE. He and his Fireman Capital Partners private-equity firm "will take a roughly 30 percent stake" in Newton Running Co., a start-up that "specializes in $175 sneakers built to emulate a shoeless stride." Newton co-Founder & CEO Jerry Lee "will retain a majority stake in the company." Fireman, who sold Reebok to adidas for $3.8B five years ago, said, "I never thought I’d be involved in anything to do with an athletic or shoe company again. But this one intrigued me." Fireman will "lend his legendary status in the industry to Newton’s marketing and design plans." Newton Running is Fireman Capital's "sixth investment since the firm started" in '09, but it is "clear Fireman and his son, Dan Fireman, who runs the private equity firm, were eager to make an investment in the world where the family made a fortune." Dan Fireman said, "Newton Running is the footwear partner we’ve been seeking for quite some time" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/10). Dan Fireman stressed that he and his father "will be very active in Newton Running." He said, "We’re going to have a significant stake. We’ll have influence over the company, its direction and operations. It’s great when you can take those skill sets that you’ve learned and done for years and apply them to a company that you really understand" (BOSTON HERALD, 6/10).
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