13 Big M&A Deals That Happened in 2017 — and Two That Didn’t

The big keep getting bigger. That was the trend that defined the M&A market this year.

There are fewer and fewer companies that are doing well, and that’s creating opportunities for those stronger players to strengthen and beef up their portfolios,” Canaccord Genuity Inc. analyst Camilo Lyon told FN in August.

Here are 13 major deals that happened in 2017 — and two that didn’t.

Jan. 5 & April 3: In January, just five months after Walmart picked up e-commerce site Jet.com, the retail giant’s new digital arm snapped up Boston-based ShoeBuy. Jet.com shelled out $70 million for 16-year-old ShoeBuy, and the site is operating as a standalone but complementary component to Jet.com. Then, in April, Shoebuy purchased the domain name Shoes.com from its now-defunct Canadian parent company.

Jan. 26: The Finish Line Inc. sold its running specialty business JackRabbit to Los Angeles-based private investment firm CriticalPoint Capital LLC.

Jan. 30: Steve Madden unveiled its acquisition of Schwartz & Benjamin Inc., the longtime family-owned business that specializes in licensed brands and private-label shoes. Steve Madden said the acquisition was completed for cash at closing plus an earn-out provision based on financial performance through Jan. 31, 2023, but it did not disclose exactly how much it shelled out for the company.

Ed Rosenfeld (L) and Steve Madden spearheaded the acquisition of Schwartz & Benjamin.
CREDIT: Phil Walters

May 4: Adidas Group sold its TaylorMade, Adams and Ashworth golf brands to focus on its core footwear and clothing categories.

May 8: After much speculation, Kate Spade & Co. landed in the hands of Coach Inc., which changed its own name to Tapestry Inc. several months later. The company paid $18.50 per share in cash for Kate Spade in a deal valued at $2.4 billion. The deal instantly altered the fashion playing field — and Tapestry CEO (and FN Person of the Year) Victor Luis isn’t shy about his ambitions to make more acquisitions and weave together a new kind of American powerhouse.

May 16: British footwear and accessories brand Harrys of London was acquired by New York-based real estate developer and media entrepreneur Charles S. Cohen. Cohen has acquired a 100 percent interest in the brand and will assume the position of chairman.

July 6: QVC parent company Liberty Interactive Corp. announced that it had entered into a deal to acquire 62 percent of competitor HSN Inc. that it did not already own. (Liberty currently owns 38.2 percent of HSNi.) The all-stock transaction, which could close by the end of the year, marked the latest retail industry merger where major firms opted to consolidate in order to build strength against online giant Amazon.

July 13: The Brazilian parent company of popular flip-flop brand Havaianas was sold for 3.5 billion reals, or $1.1 billion. J&F Investments, the controlling shareholder of Havaianas maker Alpargatas SA, sold its stake in Alpargatas to Brazilian investment firms Cambuhy Investimentos Ltda., Itaúsa (Investimentos Itaú SA) and Brasil Warrant Administração de Bens e Empresas SA.

CREDIT: Courtesy of brand.

July 25: When Michael Kors Inc. revealed plans to buy Jimmy Choo, the former made a serious bet — to the tune of $1.35 billion — on luxury shoes. Choo, which has been the most bought-and-sold brand in high-end footwear, now gets its fifth owner in its 21-year history. And like Tapestry, Kors is positioning itself to become a formidable American fashion giant.

Aug. 14: VF Corp. — which had focused mainly on organic growth and fine-tuning its portfolio since its 2011 acquisition of Timberland — said it would acquire Williamson-Dickie Mfg. Co. VF  paid $820 million in cash for the company, which owns workwear apparel and footwear brands Dickies, Workrite, Kodiak, Terra and Walls.

Aug. 21: Street-inspired fashion-and-footwear seller DTLR Inc. merged with urban lifestyle retailer Sneaker Villa Inc. to form a new combined entity that the companies hope will have the “strength of a national retailer.”

Sept. 13: Linda Bennett returned to the helm of L.K. Bennett with new majority stake in the footwear firm she founded in 1990 as a single shop in Wimbledon, England. She effectively bought back the business, having increased her investment in the company by acquiring the remaining equity in L.K. Bennett Ltd. from Phoenix Equity Partners for an undisclosed sum. (Well-known industry exec Robert Bensoussan also exited as part of the deal.)

aldo store
Aldo Group’s deal with Vince Camuto fell apart.
CREDIT: Rex/Shutterstock

And here are two big deals that didn’t happen: 

Oct. 19: The powerhouse merger that was to bring together two of the most storied names in shoes officially fell apart. The Aldo Group and Camuto Group said that their plans to merge — via a transaction that would have seen the former acquire the latter — are now off the table. The companies said the decision to no longer pursue the transaction was mutual and followed “careful consideration and thoughtful discussion” by both parties.

Ongoing: While there has been much speculation about Sports Direct International Plc snapping up Finish Line, it hasn’t happened — at least not yet. Sports Direct has taken a significant interest in the U.S. athletic retailer this year — and the latter said in August that it adopted the “poison pill” to “reduce the likelihood that any person or group would gain control of Finish Line through open-market accumulation or coercive takeover tactics.” But analysts maintain that Finish Line is still open to a deal and that talks are continuing.

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