Raleigh brand may ride into Dutch sunset

The British bicycle maker Raleigh is set to fall into overseas hands after a Dutch rival, Accell, said yesterday that it was in exclusive talks over buying the business.

The discussions come as Raleigh – renowned for best-selling bikes such as the 1970s Chopper and the Raleigh Burner – celebrates its 125th anniversary this year. The size of the deal is undisclosed but it is likely to reap millions for Raleigh's majority shareholder, Alan Finden-Crofts, who took control of the business in 1987.

The Nottingham-based company has about 180 staff in the UK and 900 worldwide. Alongside Raleigh, the company is known for its Avenir and Diamondback brands.

It sold 850,000 bicycles last year, although it moved production of its bikes to the Far East in 2002. It has operations in the US, Switzerland, Canada and Taiwan.

Acquisitive Accell has been on the lookout for takeover targets with a €100m (£83m) war chest and said this year that it was also looking in North America, Spain and Italy. The Dutch company, whose best-known brands include Batavus and Sparta bikes, posted profits of €40.3m last year on sales of €628.5m.