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SBD Global/October 18, 2012/FinancePrint All
Cosworth, "one of the great names of the British motor industry, renowned for building high performance engines for racing teams and sports cars, has been put up for sale," according to Robert Lea of the LONDON TIMES. After "months of waiting to test the stock market with a flotation of the company," the owners of Cosworth have instructed Swiss-based global financial services company UBS to find a buyer for the business. Speculation immediately centered on Rolls-Royce as an interested party -- "in recent years Cosworth has diversified into aerospace and Rolls is among its key customers." Such a deal "would mark an extraordinary return to its past for Rolls, a company that made its name in the car industry before the business split to leave the present FTSE 100 company focused on aircraft engines and turbines." Cosworth's "capabilities and intellectual property are likely to interest a number of other automotive and aerospace companies," including British global engineering group GKN, "which also operates in both markets, as well as defence companies, another market into which Cosworth has moved." Cosworth CEO Tim Routsis said, "We have been paused for the last 18 months, and the board has decided that we cannot wait any longer otherwise we risk losing momentum" (LONDON TIMES, 10/17). MOTORSPORT-TOTAL.com's Stefan Ziegler wrote that "Cosworth's F1 engines have been one of the most successful ones in the series history." Only Ferrari engines have won more races (220) than Ford-Cosworth engines that won 176 races between '63-04 (MOTORSPORT-TOTAL.com, 10/17).
Former Chinese Olympic gymnast Li Ning announced that "a 25% stake" in his namesake sportswear brand will be sold to Viva China Holding, a sports talent management and consultancy that is also owned by Li, according to Zhao Qian of the GLOBAL TIMES. Li said the move "was aimed at transforming its business model." The sportswear company said that two of its shareholders, Victory Mind Assets and Dragon City Management (PTC), "have agreed to sell their stakes to Viva for $175M." Li is the founder of Li Ning, and his family members are the principal owners of Victory Mind Assets and Dragon City Management. The acquisition will see Li reducing his involvement in the sportswear company. Li and his family hold around 70% of Viva. CIC Industry Research Center's Xiong Xiaokun said, "Li Ning will probably enter the sports-related real estate sector." One of Viva's major businesses is construction of a "sport community," which combines sports facilities and residential community development (GLOBAL TIMES, 10/18).
STOCK RALLIES ON NEWS: REUTERS' Donny Kwok reports shares of Viva China "more than doubled on the news." However, Li Ning, the company that operates around 7,300 branded sports stores across China, dropped on the Hong Kong stock market "as investors said the deal suggested the group's founder was gradually giving up direct control of the business." Bank of America Merrill Lynch said that the Li family's "stake in the listed company would be diluted" to 17.64% from 25.23%. However, shares of Chinese sportswear brand Anta Sports "benefited from the doubts about Li Ning" (REUTERS, 10/17). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Laurie Burkitt noted Li Ning is "in the midst of a major business overhaul, replacing its senior management and repositioning its brand as a part of a three-year transformation program aimed at improving profitability and taking broader market share in China's apparel market" (WSJ, 10/16). The WSJ's Duncan Mavin reported Li Ning shares fell 4.8% on Wednesday. However, Li "isn't cashing out," merely he has "shuffled his Li Ning his Li Ning stake at a premium price into a relatively cash-rich vehicle he controls." Viva's minority investors "now benefit from any Li Niung upside, which helps explain why its shares jumped sharply Wednesday." But Li has also "significantly limited his downside in Li Ning, too" (WSJ, 10/17).
British racing car brand, Lola, "is set to live under a new set of operators," according to SPEED. Lola Group Holdings, owner of the Lola brand and intellectual property, is "not affected by the company's fall into administration." LGH "is believed to have reached a licensing agreement with Multimatic Engineering and Haas Auto to use the brand's name and intellectual property." In addition, it is understood that the existing assets of Lola Cars that were up for sale by the joint administrators have "also been acquired by two companies, including the current stock and inventory of Le Mans Prototype parts and tooling to continue production and customer support." LGH declined comment on the believed acquisition (SPEED, 10/16). MOTORSPORT-TOTAL.com's Mario Fritzsche reported that Lola's World Endurance Championship customers "reacted to the recent developments in a calm manner." Swiss-based WEC Rebellion Team Principal Bart Hayden said that "the team plans on racing the current Lola Coupe type B12/60 also in the upcoming season." Hayden said, "If we continue with these cars next year, which I think would be the most-likely scenario, it's a question of really identifying early what the likely part requirement will be for the season and getting those orders in early because all of those parts have long lead times." Hayden estimated the possibility of using the current cars also during '13 WEC season to be "90%" (MOTORSPORT-TOTAL.com, 10/17).