Accell Group has this morning announced that it has received a takeover proposal from Pon Holdings. The first approach had been earlier in March and this morning’s announcement was made following leaks about the talks in the Dutch press. Pon is a Dutch automotive group with a growing interest in bicycles – among others it owns the Gazelle, Santa Cruz and Cervelo cycle brands. Accell, also of the Netherlands, owns Haibike, Batavus and Raleigh as well as other bike brands.
"In response to the proposal Accell Group is having exploratory discussions with Pon Holdings," said an Accell statement. The group’s board is "carefully reviewing and considering all aspects of the proposal."
The statement, almost word for word the same as a statement from Pon, added: "There can be no assurance any transaction will result from these discussions."
Indeed, the Dutch competition authority would look very closely at the proposed merger because a combined company would have almost total control of the Dutch market for bicycles. However, consolidation also makes sense in a softening market: last year the Dutch market for bicycles dropped to a 30-year low.
In 2016, Accell Group sold around 1.5 million bicycles and recorded profits of €32m on turnover of over €1bn.
Pon’s takeover proposal of €32.72 per share values Accell’s stock at €845 million.
A statement from Pon said: "After a detailed assessment of the strategy and performance of Accell Group, Pon Holdings has concluded there is an excellent strategic fit between the bike activities of both companies with benefits for all stakeholders. The combination results in the world’s leading global bicycle company, with headquarters in the Netherlands and with sufficient scale to be the long term winner in the industry."
The merger, if it goes ahead, would create one of the world’s largest makers of premium and mid-market bikes, and would also reunite great rivals Raleigh and Gazelle. The two bike brands, both founded during the Victorian "bike boom", were part of the British Tube Investments Group in the 1970s. TI bought Raleigh in June 1960 and Gazelle in 1971.
Pon was founded in 1895 by Mijndert Pon as a general store – he soon diversified into bicycles and became the Dutch importer for Opel bicycles. By the 1920s the business was also the importer of Opel motorcars and became the Dutch distributor for Continental bicycle and automobile tyres. In 1947, Pon’s sons signed a deal to become the Dutch importer of Volkswagen motorcars.
In 2011, the firm went back to its bicycle roots when it acquired Gazelle, Derby Cycle and Cervelo. Earlier this year Pon bought the US e-bike brand Faraday Bicycles.