The sporting goods industry has seen many mergers and acquisitions (M&A) driven by rising competition and industrial growth. In 1997, Adidas acquired the Salomon Group for $1.4 billion. In 2003, Nike acquired Converse for $305 million and in 2004 Reebok acquired The Hockey Company for $330 million.

Adidas and Reebok – Two mega brands, with great strengths

In August 2005, German adidas-Salomon AG announced plans to acquire Reebok at an estimated value of € 3.1 billion ($3.78 billion). At the time, Adidas had a market capitalization of about $8.4 billion, and reported net income of $423 million a year earlier on sales of $8.1 billion. Reebok reported net income of $209 million on sales of about $4 billion. While analysts opined that the merger made sense, the purpose of the merger was very clear. Both companies competed for No. 2 and No. 3 positions following Nike (NKE).

Competition with Nike and Puma

Nike was the leader in U.S. and had made giant strides in Europe even surpassing Adidas in the soccer shoe segment for the first time. According to 2004 figures by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association International, Nike had about 36%, Adidas 8.9% and Reebok 12.2% market share in the athletic-footwear market in the U.S. Adidas was the No. 2 sporting goods manufacturer globally, but it struggled in the U.S. – the world’s biggest athletic-shoe market with half the $33 billion spent globally each year on athletic shoes. Adidas was perceived to have good quality products that offered comfort whereas Reebok was seen as a stylish or hip brand. Nike had both and was a favorite brand because of its fashion status, colors, and combinations. Adidas focused on sport and Reebok on lifestyle. Clearly the chances of competing against Nike were far better together than separately. Besides Adidas was facing stiff competition from Puma, the No. 4 sporting-goods brand. Puma had then recently disclosed expansion plans through acquisitions and entry into new sportswear categories. For a successful merger, the challenge was to integrate Adidas’s German culture of control, engineering, and production and Reebok’s U.S. marketing- driven culture.

The ADDYY and RBK Merger – Impossible is Nothing

On January 31, 2006, adidas closed its acquisition of Reebok International Ltd. The combination provided the new adidas Group with a footprint of around €9.5 billion ($11.8 billion) in the global athletic footwear, apparel and hardware markets.

Adidas-Salomon AG Chairman and CEO Herbert Hainer said, “We are delighted with the closing of the Reebok transaction, which marks a new chapter in the history of our Group. By combining two of the most respected and well-known brands in the worldwide sporting goods industry, the new Group will benefit from a more competitive worldwide platform, well-defined and complementary brand identities, a wider range of products, and a stronger presence across teams, athletes, events and leagues.”

Hainer also said, “The brands will be kept separate because each brand has a lot of value and it would be stupid to bring them together. The companies would continue selling products under respective brand names and labels.”

Related Reading on Adidas Reebok merger case study: Is the Adidas Reebok merger working?

Download PDF file (25 pages) – Management Case Study on adidas and Reebok Merger