Icebreaker sold for $288m to VF Corp

icebreakerKiwi merino wool clothing maker Icebreaker Holdings was sold to US apparel giant VF Corp for $288 million in a competitive tender process, Overseas Investment Office documents show.

North Carolina-based VF Corp withheld the price paid when it announced the deal was completed with OIO approval.

The acquisition added Icebreaker to VF’s Smartwool brand, which the US firm said would position it as a global leader in merino wool and natural fibres.

The OIO granted consent for the deal on March 13, putting a $288m price tag on the takeover.

Icebreaker’s shareholders sought a tie-up with “an established international entity or group for global market access, logistics and management opportunities” to “fully realise Icebreaker’s growth potential” and picked VF as its preferred buyer after a competitive tender process, a summary of the decision said.

Pencarrow Private Equity is the biggest shareholder with a 38 per cent stake it bought three years ago, followed by founder Jeremy Moon who directly holds 6.4 per cent and indirectly owns 22.5 per cent via Moon Comm with his ex-wife Sarah Catherall. Stephen Tindall’s K One W One owns 9.4 per cent.

The foreign investment screening body was satisfied “the individuals who will control the investment have the relevant business experience and acumen and are of good character,” and that they “demonstrated financial commitment to the investment,” the summary said.

Icebreaker had annual sales of $220m in the last financial year, of which 86 per cent were from overseas markets, and is expected to immediately add to VF’s earnings.

NYSE-listed VF Corp has a market capitalisation of around US$29.5 billion and its portfolio includes The North Face, Timberland, SmartWool, Vans, Wrangler and Lee.

Icebreaker signed a 10-year, $100m supply contract with New Zealand merino wool growers a week after the deal was first announced in November.

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