By Ese Erheriene and Dominic Chopping
China's leading homegrown sports retailer is close to wrapping up a EUR4.6 billion ($5.2 billion) takeover of Finland's Amer Sports Oyj, as it seeks momentum in a fast-growing home market dominated by foreign giants.
Anta Sports Products Ltd. made the bid with a consortium that also includes tech giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Chip Wilson, the Canadian billionaire founder of athletic-apparel retailer Lululemon Athletica Inc. Amer, which specializes in winter sports, would broaden Anta's range for a hoped-for surge in consumer demand for skiing and snowboarding gear as the Bejing Winter Olympics of 2022 near.
Amer's board of directors voted unanimously to recommend the EUR40-a-share offer to shareholders, the company said in a filing Friday, though it isn't yet a done deal.
An agreement would give Amer access to Anta's distribution network and sourcing capabilities in China, the consortium said in a statement. Chip Wilson and Tencent couldn't be immediately reached for comment.
Though Anta--which sells Fila and other branded clothes as well as its own-brand products--posted record profits last year, Nike Corp. and Adidas AG have far larger and faster-growing shares of China's sportswear market.
The domestic market provides the lion's share of Anta's revenue, but the company aims to be a global competitor with multiple brands, Chairman and Chief Executive Ding Shizhong said earlier this year.
Chinese companies have been snapping up European clothing brands, aiming to benefit from a hot consumer market at home. China's retail sports market has grown 44% in the past five years, according to Euromonitor, and while it is only about a third the size of the U.S. market, research firm Mintel predicts it could grow to $37 billion by 2022 from $28 billion last year.
Besides winter-sports names Atomic and Arc'teryx, Amer brands include Wilson, which makes the tennis rackets used by Serena Williams and Roger Federer, as well as Louisville Slugger, the official bat of Major League Baseball.
The Anta group has more than 10,000 stores, mainly in China and Hong Kong, plus a small presence in Singapore and Macau. But between 2013 and 2017 its China market share increased only slightly, to 8% from 7.6%, according to Euromonitor, while Nike's grew to 21% from 17% and Adidas's to 20% from 15%.
Zhou Wei contributed to this article.
Write to Ese Erheriene at firstname.lastname@example.org and Dominic Chopping at email@example.com