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Russell Buys Assets From Spalding

NEW YORK — Lining up its third acquisition in eight months, Russell Corp. has agreed to buy the non-golf operations of Spalding Sports Worldwide for $65 million.<br><br>Spalding generates $300 million in annual sales, with golf accounting for...

NEW YORK — Lining up its third acquisition in eight months, Russell Corp. has agreed to buy the non-golf operations of Spalding Sports Worldwide for $65 million.

Spalding generates $300 million in annual sales, with golf accounting for about $210 million of that amount and sporting goods the remaining $90 million. The deal, expected to be completed by the end of next month, should “mildly” increase Russell’s earnings, a Russell spokeswoman said Thursday.

It will also broaden Russell’s scope beyond apparel. Spalding has had notable success in recent seasons with its line of Infusion inflatable sports balls.

The acquisition will give Russell ownership of Spalding, Dudley softballs and Sherrin, an Australian label, and leave Spalding as a stand-alone golf business.

Spalding, founded in 1876 by Hall of Fame pitcher Albert Spalding, is the official ball supplier for the NBA, WNBA, American Volleyball Association, the NCAA volleyball and Major Indoor Soccer League.

Jack Ward, president and chief executive of Russell Corp., said: “Spalding is one of the oldest, largest and best-known global sporting goods brands and certainly fits into our strategic plan for growth through our athletic heritage.”

In February, Russell acquired Bike Athletic and last fall it bought Moving Comfort. For now, Russell’s “big concern is finishing the Spalding deal and working through the transition, as well as the one with Bike Athletic,” a spokeswoman said.

Spalding has 60 licensees around the world for apparel, footwear and sporting goods. Fashion Options and Jacques Moret will continue to produce Spalding’s women’s apparel until their respective contracts run out, the spokeswoman said.

The announcement helped Russell’s stock on Thursday move up 16 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $18.16 — just $1.25 shy of the 52-week high reached exactly one year ago Thursday — in New York Stock Exchange trading.

Scott Creelman, who left Spalding after 26 years as president of international licensing in 2000, has been rehired by Russell to serve as president. Most recently, he worked as a consultant in the sporting goods industry.

Russell plans to keep Spalding’s headquarters in the Chicopee, Mass., area, and is currently looking for a new office for the 40 employees that will be based there. Russell will maintain some of Spalding’s current workforce and will also do additional hiring, the Russell spokeswoman said.

This story first appeared in the April 18, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services said Thursday that the ratings and outlook on Russell Corp. will not be affected by the company’s announcement that it intends to acquire the brand names, inventory and contracts of Spalding Sports Worldwide Inc.’s sporting goods business.