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Benetton to Sell Nordica Unit

MILAN — Benetton Group has signed a preliminary deal to sell its Nordica unit, in a first step to shed its money-losing sporting goods assets.<br><br>Benetton, which is streamlining to focus on its core clothing business, said it will sell...

MILAN — Benetton Group has signed a preliminary deal to sell its Nordica unit, in a first step to shed its money-losing sporting goods assets.

Benetton, which is streamlining to focus on its core clothing business, said it will sell Nordica to Italy’s Tecnica, owner of ski labels Volkl and Marker as well as outerwear brands like Dolomite and Think Pink.

The retailer, in turn, will take a 10 percent stake in Tecnica for $15.7 million. Benetton said it has a put option on the stake, but it did not disclose timing details. (Dollar figures are converted from euros at current exchange rates.)

An upcoming valuation of Nordica’s manufacturing assets will determine the final sale price, but Benetton said intellectual property rights and the Nordica brand name alone are valued at $39.9 million. Tecnica will pay in installments over the next five years. The sale is to be completed Feb. 1.

In 2001, Nordica posted sales of $88.5 million with a margin before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of about 1 percent, Benetton said.

Benetton reiterated that it is proceeding to sell the rest of its sporting goods units, which have chipped away at the firm’s bottom line for years. Benetton has said it is in advanced talks to sell its Rollerblade brand to The Hockey Co., a Montreal-based firm.

Meanwhile, the Italian retailer said various parties have expressed an interest in its tenniswear brand Prince. It did not name prospective buyers.