Pentland sells Adidas holding back to Tapie

PENTLAND has finally walked away from Adidas, reaping a 100 per cent return of pounds 47m on the failed takeover attempt of one of the world's leading sports goods companies.

The 16-month long Adidas saga has finished where it started, in the hands of Bernard Tapie. The French entrepreneur has paid pounds 61m cash to buy back the 20.05 per cent stake he first sold to Pentland for pounds 46m.

That transaction yields a pounds 13m pre-tax profit for the British sportswear group. The remaining pounds 34m comes from favourable currency movements, pounds 14m of which was gleaned over the last month alone from sterling's devaluation.

The funds from the currency transactions, and from the disposal, will be placed on deposit.

Yesterday's twist came little more than a month after Pentland unexpectedly cancelled a pounds 215m deal to buy Adidas, the German- based group that derives its name from the founding Adi Dassler.

That withdrawal opened a deep, acrimonious division between Pentland and Mr Tapie. He threatened legal action against the UK group, which made its name out of a money-spinning investment in Reebok, the US sports company, in the 1980s.

One City observer said yesterday that he was not surprised by the re-purchase by Mr Tapie. 'His hands were tied. He could not move any further, and with regard to Pentland it's a question of what's luck, or skill,' he said.

The luck, or skill, elements date back to July last year when Pentland bought the 20 per cent stake in Adidas, and at the same time negotiated pre-emptive rights over the remaining shares.

The underlying value of that first right of refusal became evident a year later, when Mr Tapie agreed to sell out to Pentland.

Three months later, however, Pentland backed out, claiming that due diligence carried out on Adidas revealed 'some serious items'. Pentland said it could not elaborate on its findings, because of confidentiality agreements.

Investors yesterday welcomed the news, lifting Pentland shares by 8p to 125p, spurred by thoughts of where Pentland will now invest its cash - about pounds 300m at the last count.

One name being mentioned in the City yesterday was Dunlop Slazenger, which is owned by BTR.

Pentland, however, was not giving any clues, with Stephen Rubin, chairman, and Frank Farrant, unavailable for comment.

It is known, however, that Pentland is keen on buying sports brands. The company already owns the Speedo sportswear business, and has ties with Pony, Ellesse, and Kickers shoe brands.

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