Iconix Brand Group Inc. has ponied up $37 million in cash for the North American rights to the athletic brand Pony and related intangible assets in partnership with Anthony L&S Athletics from Symphony Holdings LLC.
Hong Kong-based Symphony acquired Pony in 2010 in an effort to revive the footwear brand. Pony’s assets will be purchased through a newly formed subsidiary, which will be 75 percent owned by Iconix and 25 percent by AL&S. Following the transaction, Iconix has the option to expand global ownership of the brand and acquire the Pony assets in additional territories.
“Sports has been one of the strongest and fastest growing segments of our portfolio, and a business that has proven to be truly global in its appeal,” said Neil Cole, chairman and chief executive officer of Iconix. “With the addition of Pony, we believe we can leverage our existing sports platform including our Danskin, Starter and Umbro brands, which represent over two billion of global retail sales, and create significant value for the brand.”
Pony was founded by Uruguay–born entrepreneur Roberto Muller in New York in 1972 and became a top athletic footwear brand, worn by professional athletes in the World Cup, NBA, NFL, MLB and boxing. The street culture brand went through several owners and was repositioned multiple times. In recent years, archival images featuring athletes such as soccer star Pelé and football star Dan Marino sporting Pony were featured.
Seth Horowitz, chief operating officer of Iconix, said he believes the group can grow Pony throughout North America, creating “a profitable multi-tiered distribution strategy similar to our other successful sports brands.” Further, he said, it will explore opportunities in additional geographies.
In exchange for its 25 percent stake in the partnership, AL&S contributed its previously held perpetual rights to the Pony brand in the U.S. and Canada, and will be the core footwear licensee going forward. AL&S (which has been rebranded as Unlimited Brand Group) owns, licenses, markets and distributes brands such as Etonic, G-Star, RAW Footwear, and Levi’s Strauss & Co. Footwear.
Last fall, DKNY partnered with Pony to make a white-on-white leather sneakers imprinted with “Product of New York” on the tongue. The sneakers are being sold in select DKNY stores and online this month for $225.