Adidas launches Reebok auction

Germany
Published:  11 May, 2021

The German sportswear brand has begun the sale of its Reebok brand in an auction, news agency Reuters has reported. Three sources told the agency that the auction risks being affected by a political disagreement over possible forced labour in China’s western Xinjiang region.

Adidas bought the U.S. fitness label for US$3.8 billion in 2006, but its performance has led to repeated calls from investors to divest of the brand, which is now expected to bring in only around €1 billion (US$1.2 billion).

Adidas has asked for first round bids to be submitted in the week of May 10-14 and is expecting China's Anta Sports and Li Ning to make offers, with Korea's Fila and U.S.-based Wolverine also seen as possible bidders, sources told Reuters. Financial investors, including TPG, Sycamore, Cerberus and Apollo are also likely to join the fray, privy to the turnaround potential of Reebok, which is expected to make a loss in 2021 and post only "slightly positive" core earnings next year, they added.

Adidas declined to comment. The prospective bidders also declined to comment or were not immediately available for comment.

The appeal could be disrupted for Chinese buyers by consumer boycotts of Western fashion brands over cotton sourcing from Xinjiang - some researchers and foreign lawmakers say the Xinjiang authorities use coercive labour programmes to meet seasonal cotton-picking needs, which China strongly denies.

Adidas is marketing Reebok off 2025 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of more than €200 million with expected annual revenue growth of 10%, the sources shared with Reuters.

Credit: Reebok