A look from Spyder, which has just been acquired by Apax Partners.

NEW YORK — Apax Partners, the private equity firm that helped Phillips-Van Heusen buy Calvin Klein, has acquired Spyder Active Sports, a fast-growing ski apparel company. The transaction is valued at about $100 million. <BR><BR>Spyder was owned...

NEW YORK — Apax Partners, the private equity firm that helped Phillips-Van Heusen buy Calvin Klein, has acquired Spyder Active Sports, a fast-growing ski apparel company. The transaction is valued at about $100 million.

Spyder was owned by several investors, including CHB Capital Partners, as well as by company management.

“Spyder is a high-quality, high-performance company that has a lot of room for growth,” said David Landau, a partner in Apax. “We see this as a long-term investment.”

Spyder, based in Boulder, Colo., has estimated sales of about $80 million. It was founded in 1978 by David Jacobs, a Canadian-born championship skier who began the company as a mail-order business from his kitchen. The firm grew rapidly by targeting racers and recreational skiers. Its products are sold in more than 500 specialty stores in the U.S and are available around the world. The firm has about 55 employees in its Boulder headquarters, and offices in Zug, Switzerland and Bangkok.

The sports arena has been particularly fertile ground for mergers and consolidations. Among the recent deals: Dick’s Sporting Goods purchased Galyan’s Trading Corp.; VF Corp. bought Vans Inc., and Reebok International purchased The Hockey Co.

Plans call for current management to stay in place as Apax executives join the Spyder board.

“This is a positive development,” Jacobs, Spyder’s president, chairman and chief executive, said on Friday. The firm told The Denver Post earlier this year that it was looking for a buyer or equity investor to help it fund growth, and it hired Financo and Wachovia Securities to help find potential buyers. Jacobs said the company is looking to expand its product beyond skiing into other active sports and categories, and also to open stores.

“We are supportive of management’s plans to expand the brand into new categories, and go broader and deeper into existing ones, while still maintaining the authenticity of the brand,” said Landau, who heads the consumer and retail sector for Apax in the U.S.

In December 2002, Apax made a $250 million equity investment and provided a loan of $125 million to PVH in connection with the Calvin Klein deal. It owns 38 percent of PVH.

This story first appeared in the July 26, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“We are looking to do more in apparel and retail,” Landau said. The company is willing to make investments both small and large, and is flexible in whether it is a minority investor or has a controlling interest, he said.