MILAN — Fila has a new owner — finally.

This story first appeared in the March 10, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Holding di Partecipazioni Industriali SpA, which has been trying to sell the struggling sport brand since June 2001, has sold the operating businesses of the company Fila to Sport Brands International LLC, an affiliate of U.S. investment fund Cerberus, for $351 million in cash, plus the assumption of any financial debt incurred by the Fila group since Jan. 1 of this year and all of Fila’s trade debt.

Sport Brands will buy four Fila subsidiaries: Fila Nederland BV, Fila Sport SpA, Ciesse Piumini SRL and Fila USA Inc. in a deal slated to close June 30. This confirms reports that Cerberus was closing in on a deal that appeared in WWD.

HdP, which currently owns 91 percent of Fila Holding, said it will within six months launch an offer for all 8.6 million outstanding shares of the holding company at $1.12 a Fila ordinary share or American Depository Share.

“The offer, when launched, will be conducted by HdP with the aim to take Fila private and to turn it later to new activities and investments within the group strategic sectors,” HdP said in a release.

As reported, HdP is selling off its fashion and textile interests to concentrate on its more lucrative publishing assets, which include the daily newspaper Corriere Della Sera. Last year, HdP sold Valentino to Marzotto, and in December, HdP chief executive Maurizio Romiti said he wants to sell the men’s wear label Joseph Abboud, now the company’s last remaining fashion asset.

“The board of directors of Fila Holding has approved the terms of the sale, taking into consideration besides the terms and structure of the Cerberus offer, various other factors including the Fila group’s economic results in recent years and the difficulties and uncertainties in achieving stable positive net results in the near future,” Fila said in a statement.

Despite sponsoring athletes like tennis star Jennifer Capriati, Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher and skier Alberto Tomba, Fila hasn’t managed to capitalize on its high-profile brand and pull itself into the black. It has posted net losses for the last five fiscal years.

As of Dec. 31, Fila’s consolidated financial debt stood at $324.53 million. (Debt figure has been converted from the euro at current exchange.)

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