SBJ/May 7-13, 2012/Finance

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  • Top tennis names listed as creditors in Prince’s Chapter 11 filing

    Prince Sports’ bankruptcy filing last week reverberated though the professional tennis world, with more then three dozen entities listed as creditors ranging from the world’s No. 2 women’s player, Maria Sharapova, to governing bodies of the sport.

    More than two dozen players have endorsement contracts with Prince.

    Peer’s contract with Prince runs through 2013, her father said.
    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
    Sharapova switched to Head in 2010.
    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
    It’s unclear if the financially ailing sporting goods company, best known for its rackets, would make good on its contractual commitments. The filing listed liabilities of between $50 million and $100 million.

    “Prince is very intertwined in tennis,” said Lagardère Unlimited agent John Tobias, whose clients John Isner and Mike and Bob Bryan have contracts with Prince. “But we have seen the writing on the wall for a few years.”

    Dovik Peer, father of Shahar Peer, a Prince endorser, wrote in an email, “Shahar still has till the end of 2013 on her contract. We got a msg, but nothing more as of now. She has been with them since she was a kid; sure things will work out well.”

    Prince’s struggles have come as Babolat and Yonex have eaten into the company’s business, especially in the United States. Sharapova, 25, dropped her “lifetime” endorsement deal with Prince in December 2010, switching to Head after having played with the racket since she was 9. She is still listed as a creditor. Her agent, IMG’s Max Eisenbud, did not return a request for comment.

    Prince is a big funder of grassroots tennis, too, with creditors listed including Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education, the Junior Orange Bowl Committee, and the Kalamazoo College USTA National Championships, where the winners are automatically entered into the U.S. Open.

    A number of tennis media outlets also are listed as creditors.

    A Prince spokesman declined to comment on how the racket maker planned to restructure contracts, referring to the company’s official statement and bankruptcy filings. There was no information in those filings about whether endorsement deals would be paid out specifically.

    Lagardère’s Tobias said Prince not long ago had been late with payments but in the first quarter this year paid up. The company has notified him since the bankruptcy filing that his clients can expect to continue to receive their rackets as part of their deals, but the correspondence did not mention whether endorsement fees would continue to be paid.

    Among the top 20 creditors, the biggest in the world of professional tennis appeared to be IMG. A company listed as International Merch. Corp./Tennis Clients is shown as being owed $273,090. Its address is the same as IMG’s Cleveland office. Risk Point Consulting, which insures athlete endorsement deals for companies, is owed $152,500.

    How much the hundreds of other creditors outside the top 20 — including those not within the world of professional tennis — are owed is not disclosed.

    Prince Sports Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing
    Partial List of Creditors
    Maria Sharapova (WTA No. 2 ranking worldwide)*
    Daniela Hantuchova (WTA No. 18)
    Mona Barthel (WTA No. 31)
    Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez (WTA No. 48)
    Shahar Peer (WTA No. 54)
    Renata Voracova (WTA No. 262)
    Daria Gavrilova (WTA No. 337)
    Lisa Raymond (WTA No. 1 doubles)
    Kveta Peschke (WTA No. 3 doubles)
    Gael Monfils (ATP No. 14)
    Marcel Granollers (ATP No. 27)
    Viktor Troicki (ATP No. 29)
    Alex Bogomolov (ATP No. 41)
    Juan Carlos Ferrero (ATP No. 52)
    Olivier Rochus (ATP No. 66)
    James Ward (ATP No. 137)
    Rik De Voest (ATP No. 139)
    Xavier Malisse (ATP No. 45 doubles)
    Stan Smith (former player)
    Paul Annacone
    Wayne Bryan (coach and father of Bob and Mike Bryan, Prince endorsers)
    Doug MacCurdy (former USTA player development head)
    IMG Academies
    Inside Tennis
    Tennis Magazine
    Tennis Channel
    Steve Solomon, sports media consultant
    U.S. Tennis Association
    Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education (sponsorship of charity)
    Junior Orange Bowl Committee (sponsorship of junior tennis tourney)
    Kalamazoo College USTA National Championships (sponsorship)
    Tennis Advisors LLC (division of Lagardère Unlimited, whose clients Bob and Mike Bryan and John Isner have endorsement deals with Prince)
    Risk Point Consulting (insures athlete endorsement deals)
    * Listing indicates money still owed on a prior deal; endorsement was previously terminated.
    Note: Athlete listings reflect endorsement deals with players.
    Source: Prince Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing

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