CTE Lawsuit Making Riddell Hard To Sell For Private Equity Owner
Helmet maker Riddell is "faced with possible crippling damages from looming lawsuits filed by former NFL players" for long-term health issues like CTE, and the company's owner, N.Y.-based private equity firm Fenway Partners, has "not been able to find a buyer after attempting to off-load the company for years," according to Josh Kosman of the N.Y. POST. For Fenway, which has owned Riddell since '04, the "growing issue of concussions has put a severe damper on its sale process." Typically, private equity firms "buy and sell companies in five years," but sources said that buyers are "fearful of the legal liabilities." There is a "class-action suit against Riddell in Philadelphia on behalf of 4,500 former NFL players." Fenway, after years of "not getting a worthy nibble on Riddell, recently reached an unusual deal" with London-based private equity firm Hollyport Capital -- which specializes in buying assets at discounts from private equity funds -- intended to "quiet Fenway fund investors." Sources said that Hollyport "bought out most of the fund's investors" and is "offering Fenway fees and a percentage of the profits when and if Riddell is sold -- if the sale price comes in above its current value" (N.Y. POST, 6/27).