GBL buys Germany's Canyon Bicyles as pandemic spurs demand

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Belgian investor Groupe Bruxelles Lambert (GBL) has agreed to buy Germany’s Canyon Bicycles in a bet that the company’s strong growth will continue once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.

GBL, which is also adidas’ largest shareholder, declined to comment on the price, but two people familiar with the matter said the deal values the maker of premium conventional and electric bikes at about 800 million euros ($972 million), including debt.

Canyon’s sales have grown at an average rate of 25% per annum over the last seven years, and now exceed 400 million euros, GBL said in a statement.

Germany has seen a sharp rise in bicycle sales this year as COVID-19 encouraged people to use them more for exercise and to avoid public transport.

The company, founded in 1985 as a bicycle retailer, started producing Canyon-branded bikes in 1996 and TSG bought a minority stake in 2016, enabling an expansion of Canyon into the United States.

As part of the transaction, minority investor TSG Consumer Partners is exiting its stake. The company’s founder, Roman Arnold, will remain the chairman and reinvest a significant part of his proceeds alongside GBL.

Former Apple manager Tony Fadell is also taking a stake.

Reuters reported in October that Arnold had put a stake in the company up for sale.

($1 = 0.8233 euros)

Reporting by Arno Schuetze and Alexander Hubner; Editing by Jan Harvey