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Samsonite Buys Gregory for $85 Million

The deal, expected to close in late July, is the company's third acquisition so far this year.

Hong Kong-based Samsonite International SA said Thursday it has agreed to buy outdoor goods company Gregory Mountain Products from Black Diamond Inc. for $85 million in cash.

Samsonite said the transaction is expected to close in late July. The luggage maker also said it increased its existing revolving credit facility from $300 million to $500 million, “giving it greater financial flexibility as it continues to evaluate acquisition opportunities globally.”

Ramesh Tainwala, chief operating officer of Samsonite, said the Gregory acquisition is part of the company’s ongoing diversification strategy beyond its core business of luggage and bags. He said Gregory and High Sierra, an entry-level backpack player Samsonite bought last year, are “very credible brands” with untapped potential.

“Gregory is for the professional outdoor enthusiast, it’s a very credible brand, but still very limited, in that its sales are limited to North America, particularly the U.S. and Japan. In these two places it’s probably the number-one brand in its category, but beyond that it hasn’t had much distribution,” Tainwala said.

“[The deal] really allows us to get into an adjoining category without a lot of risk, because it’s not a very expensive buy and what we’re buying is a profitable, small, but credible brand, and now it’s up to us to use our distribution reach to get them out to the rest of the world,” he said.

Samsonite said Gregory’s revenue for the year ended Dec. 31, 2013, increased about 14.3 percent to $34.9 million from $30.6 million the year before. After selling Gregory, Salt Lake City-based Black Diamond’s portfolio of active outerwear and apparel labels will include its namesake brand as well as Poc and Pieps.

The Gregory deal is Samsonite’s third “strategic acquisition” this year. In May, it bought electronic devices case-maker Speck Products, and in April, it bought French luggage company Lipault.

Tainwala said the company might take a small break from acquisitions to grow its recently added assets, but it is on the lookout for good opportunities.

“There could be a possibility of getting into another category where we do not have a play right now, for example handbags — not fashion, high-end handbags, but everyday-use handbags. If something credible comes about where we know what we can do with the brand, we wouldn’t hesitate,” he said.

Asian companies are becoming increasingly important players in M&A activity. The Samsonite deal comes just a day after Hong Kong-based Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd. said it was buying U.S. jeweler Hearts on Fire Co. LLC for $150 million.