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Merit Capital inks sale of Knights Apparel

Hanesbrands Inc. has agreed to buy Knights Apparel Inc., which is owned by Merit Capital Partners. Financial terms of the deal, which is subject to antitrust review, were not announced. Spartanburg, South Carolina-based Knights Apparel designs and supplies licensed sports apparel. Knights Apparel said its Alta Gracia business subsidiary, a fair trade/socially-conscious clothing brand, will not be a part of the transaction and will remain independent. Guggenheim Securities LLC provided financial advice to Knights Apparel.


SPARTANBURG, S.C., Feb. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Knights Apparel, Inc. (“Knights Apparel” or the “Company”), announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Hanesbrands Inc. The transaction will combine Knights Apparel, a leading seller of licensed collegiate apparel primarily for the mass retail channel, with Hanesbrands, a leading seller of licensed collegiate apparel in university bookstores, creating a leader in the licensed collegiate apparel market to manage and service sports licensed brands across all channels of distribution. The transaction is subject to antitrust review and other customary closing conditions and is expected to close early in the second quarter of 2015.
Under Hanesbrands ownership, Knights Apparel will join an organization with an understanding of licensed apparel, strong apparel brands, a major presence in mass retail, and a vertically integrated, low-cost global supply chain that has quick-turn embellishment capability. Knights will have an even stronger platform from which to continue its efforts to grow its brand partners’ licensing efforts and presence. In connection with the transaction, Joe Bozich, Chief Executive Officer of Knights Apparel, will continue with Hanesbrands in his leadership role for the business across retail channels. He commented, “Hanesbrands is the perfect partner and owner for Knights Apparel. The company understands our business and they bring strengths and capabilities that will make us an even better service provider for our brands and retail partners. Together we can provide our brands and retail partners with best-in-class brand management and best-in-class service across all genders and all channels of distribution.”
Knights Apparel’s Alta Gracia business subsidiary, a fair trade/socially-conscious clothing brand, will not be a part of the transaction and will remain independent. Alta Gracia will be a stand-alone entity owned by certain of the current Knights Apparel ownership group. “Our goal has always been to give Alta Gracia an opportunity to become an independent and sustainable business,” said Donnie Hodge, President of Knights Apparel. “Because of the partnership and support we continue to receive from our university and retail partners, we believe Alta Gracia is well positioned for growth in the market for ethically responsible products.”
Knights Apparel, headquartered in Spartanburg, South Carolina, is a designer and supplier of licensed sports apparel. The Company is a licensee for colleges and universities as well as the National Hockey League, often under arrangements providing a level of exclusivity. Knights Apparel sells products across all categories, including t-shirts, fleeces and polos, for men, women, and youth/infant/toddler consumers. Its products are primarily sold to big box retailers.
Knights Apparel is owned by Merit Capital Partners, a Chicago based private equity fund, company management, and other outside minority investors. Guggenheim Securities, LLC acted as exclusive financial advisor to Knights Apparel and Vedder Price PC served as legal counsel.
About Merit Capital Partners
Based in Chicago, Merit Capital Partners has raised $1.7 billion through five institutionally sponsored limited partnerships. Merit Capital invests mezzanine and equity capital in middle-market companies, typically in partnership with existing owners and/or management teams.