Nike nearing $500M deal to sell Cole Haan

Nike nearing $500M deal to sell Cole Haan
Nike CEO Mark Parker said selling the Umbro and Cole Haan brands will allow the company to sharpen its focus on growing its remaining businesses. (Photo courtesy of the Portland Business Journal)

Nike Inc. is on the verge of selling its Cole Haan footwear and handbag brand to private equity firm Apax Partners, Reuters reported Monday.

The news agency, citing three people familiar with the deal, said London-based Apax will pay around $500 million after out-bidding two other private equity firms at private auction for the brand.

Nike spokeswoman Mary Remuzzi declined to comment on the Reuters report Monday, but said the Cole Haan "sale process is on track with multiple prospective buyers."

That price tag is a big jump from the $80 million Nike paid for the fashion label in 1988 and would come close to Cole Haan's recent annual revenue performance. The brand produced $535 million in sales in fiscal 2012.

The Cole Haan sale as reported would also appear to be a better deal for shareholders than Nike's sale last month of U.K. soccer brand Umbro.

Nike on Oct. 24 said it agreed to sell Umbro to New York-based Iconix Brand Group Inc. (NASDAQ: ICON) for $225 million five years after it acquired the brand for $565 million.

The Washington County athletic footwear and apparel company (NYSE: NKE) announced in May that it would sell both Umbro and Cole Haan by year's end so it can focus on growing its remaining Nike, Jordan, Converse, and Hurley brands.

CEO Mark Parker at the time said it was about focusing "our resources on the highest-potential opportunities for Nike Inc."

Reuters reported that Apax came out ahead of other private equity bidders, including TPG Capital Management and Berkshire Partners, in an auction for Cole Haan.

Former Converse CEO Jack Boys will work with Apax to run the brand after the acquisition, Reuters reported, citing two of its three confidential sources.

The Portland Business Journal is a KATU.com news partner.