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Exclusive-SIGNA Sports United in talks to go public through SPAC deal -sources

Arno Schuetze, Christoph Steitz and Matthias Inverardi
·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: A logo of Signa is pictured on a building nearby the Karstadt sport department store, in Berlin

By Arno Schuetze, Christoph Steitz and Matthias Inverardi

FRANKFURT (Reuters) -Sporting goods retailer SIGNA Sports United, owned by Austrian investor Rene Benko, is in talks to go public through a merger with a blank check company in a deal that could value the firm at up to $4 billion, two people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

SIGNA Sports United is working with several banks, including Citigroup Inc, on a potential transaction and is in preliminary talks with special purpose acquisition companies (SPAC), including Yucaipa Acquisition Corp, the people said.

Shares of Yucaipa rose as much as 4.4% on the news before paring gains to close 0.3% higher.

SIGNA Sports United is also nearing a deal to buy Britain-based online sporting goods store Wiggle, which is owned by private equity firm Bridgepoint, the people said.

No agreements have been reached and there is no guarantee that deals will materialise, they added.

SIGNA and Wiggle declined to comment. Citigroup and Yucaipa were not immediately available for comment.

SIGNA Sports United explored a stock market listing in 2018 at a valuation of 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) but then opted for a fundraising, bringing in Asian retailers Aeon Co Ltd and Central Group as well as German insurer R+V.

SPACs raise funds in an initial public offering with the aim of buying a private firm, which then automatically gets a stock market listing.

SIGNA Sports United runs firms like bicycle online shops Fahrrad.de or Bikester, outdoor gear retailer Campz and online tennis platform Tennis-Point as well as team sport shops Outfitter and Stylefile.

The company runs more than 80 Web shops in 17 countries, reaching over 4 million customers a year. The group expects sales of about $1.6 billion in its current fiscal year to September, the people said, adding this could more than double over the next four years.

($1 = 0.8394 euro)

(Reporting by Arno Schuetze and Christoph Steitz in Frankfurt and Matthias Inverardi in DuesseldorfEditing by Jonathan Oatis and Matthew Lewis)