Kohlberg Eyes Top-Shelf Shot with Bauer IPO

Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks
Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks has an endorsement deal with Bauer

After three years, Bauer Performance Sports, the hockey equipment maker, plans to part ways with Kohlberg & Co.

Bauer, which makes skates, pads and helmets used by many NHL players, plans to go public in Canada. Bauer didn’t disclose how many shares it planned to sell on the Toronto Stock Exchange or how much it would raise via the IPO. That information will come in future filings. However, The Globe and Mail says the IPO is expected to raise $75 million and Kohlberg is looking to sell a 20% stake.

Once the IPO is completed, Bauer plans to buy the company from its PE owners, according to a Jan. 27 regulatory filing. RBC Capital Markets and CIBC are joint bookrunners on the offering.

The Bauer family, of Kitchener, Ontario, founded the company in 1927. Bauer is known for making the first ice skate with the blade attached to the boot. Current brands include Bauer Hockey, Mission Roller Hockey and Maverik Lacrosse.

The company estimates that 90% of the NHL players wear or use its equipment. Bauer reported Cdn$2.2 million (US$2.2 million) in profit for the year ended May 31 compared to $19.3 million in losses for the same time period in 2009. Long-term debt, as of Nov. 30, stood at $90.9 million.

Mt. Kisco, N.Y.-based Kohlberg is the PE firm founded by Jerome Kohlberg, who was also one of the founders of KKR. Kohlberg & Co. targets mid market firms valued from $100 million to $500 million. In February 2008, Kohlberg & Co. acquired Bauer Hockey from Nike for $200 million.