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China's Anta considers bid for US$4b rival Amer

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Anta Sports Products Ltd, China's biggest athletic apparel producer, is considering a potential deal for Amer Sports Oyj, the maker of Wilson tennis rackets and Salomon hiking boots, people with knowledge of the matter said. Amer shares soared.

[HONG KONG] Anta Sports Products Ltd, China's biggest athletic apparel producer, is considering a potential deal for Amer Sports Oyj, the maker of Wilson tennis rackets and Salomon hiking boots, people with knowledge of the matter said. Amer shares soared.

Anta has held discussions with banks about a potential acquisition of Helsinki-based Amer, which has a market value of about 3.4 billion euros (S$5.4 billion), according to the people. It has been considering various deal structures, and Anta could decide to pursue some of Amer's assets instead of the whole firm, one of the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.

Amer stock jumped as much as 14 per cent before being halted in early trading in Helsinki. Anta shares fell about 2.6 per cent in Hong Kong.

The Chinese company, which has a market value of US$12.5 billion, has been working to expand its business overseas and is seeking acquisitions of well-established global brands. It is also scouting for business partners to help it enter the European market as soon as next year, James Zheng, Anta brand president, said in a February interview.

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Amer said earlier this month that it's conducting a review of its Mavic cycling brand to focus on more profitable, faster-growing businesses. Over time, the company also plans to assess strategic options for its Fitness and Sports Instruments businesses, including standalone opportunities, as they grow toward their target scale.

Anta, which previously bought the greater China rights to the Fila brand, had US$1.5 billion of cash and equivalents at the end of June, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Deliberations are at an early stage, and there's no certainty they will lead to a transaction, the people said.

Representatives for Anta, which is based in Jinjiang in eastern China's Fujian province, and Amer declined to comment.

Amer's other brands include Louisville Slugger baseball bats, Arc'teryx outdoor gear and Atomic skiing equipment.

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