Authentic Brands Group (ABG) might have just scored the first major deal of 2022.
The retail and marketing powerhouse is buying a majority stake in DB Ventures LLC, David Beckham’s brand-management firm, Bloomberg reported. ABG will reportedly pay close to 200 million pounds, or $269 million, for a 55% stake in the firm, which manages the former soccer player’s endorsement deals with Tudor watches and Haig, a whiskey brand.
Footwear News has reached out to Beckham and ABG for comment on the deal, which was first reported by The Daily Mail.
Though Beckham retired from soccer in 2013, the former athlete has worked on projects and deals with brands such as Adidas, Diageo, H&M, L’Oreal, Tudor and Sands.
ABG is the company behind dozens of brand and retailer acquisitions, including Forever 21, Barneys New York and J.C. Penney and most recently, the Reebok brand, which it acquired from Adidas last year. The company, led by CEO Jamie Salter and president and CMO Nick Woodhouse, was awarded Company of the Year in Footwear News’ Annual Achievement Awards in New York in November.
ABG filed for an IPO in July but delayed plans to go public after it received a pair of new investments from CVC Capital Partners (CVC) and HPS Investment Partners (HPS) in November. In addition to owning various brands and retailers, ABG also owns the rights to various celebrities, including Elvis Presley and former NBA star and ABG shareholder Shaquille O’Neal.
Since the parties involved have yet to confirm the deal, it is still unclear what ABG’s involvement would be in Beckham’s endorsements moving forward. NPD analyst Matt Powell pointed out that if the deal is in fact confirmed, it would be “a very different business than owning brands and managing them,” which is typical for ABG.
Additionally, the deal would help ABG enter the watch and liquor market and would reportedly help DB Ventures pay off debt.
“DB Ventures can also leverage that power ABG brands has in the market today for scaling and growing the DB brand,” said Liza Amlani, principal and founder of consulting company Retail Strategy Group. “She added that this deal could even bring Beckham closer to a possible partnership or deal with Reebok. “The opportunity to scale and expand are endless with the backing of ABG.”
Victoria Beckham, David’s wife, previously partnered with Reebok in 2019 for a collection of sweatshirts backpacks, socks, sweats, leggings, sports bras, hats and more. She teased the collection in 2018 alongside former Reebok brand ambassador Shaquille O’Neal, who she said inspired her designs.
In an interview with FN in November, Salter explained how his company determines which brands are worth the investment. At the time, he did not mention anything about David Beckham, though he did mention wanted to expand the company’s reach into hard goods, small appliances, and possibly tools.
“To me, brands have to have heartbeats,” Salter said. “Reebok has a major heartbeat. Barneys has a heartbeat. Sports Illustrated has a heartbeat. A lot of people see revenue, but revenue is revenue. If it doesn’t have a heartbeat, it’s very hard to revive and bring it back. Got a heartbeat? You can bring that back.”