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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 October 2007, 13:54 GMT 14:54 UK
Nike to buy Umbro in 285m deal
England players
Recent England kit sales have been disappointing
Umbro, the maker of the England football team's kit, has agreed to be bought by US sportswear giant Nike in a deal worth 285m ($580m).

Nike said the deal would allow it to "significantly expand" its presence in "a key growth category" for the firm.

As well as providing kit for the England team, Umbro also supplies the kit for six Premier League clubs.

The Football Association said Nike had assured it that the FA's relationship with Umbro would be protected.

Manchester-based Umbro said last month that sales of England tops had been "disappointing", and analysts are concerned that sales could suffer if England fail to qualify for next year's European Championship.

Defensive moves

Speculation had been rising that Nike was set to launch a bid after Umbro said last week that it had received an approach about a possible offer.

West Ham

On Friday, retailer JJB Sports bought a 10.1% stake in Umbro in a move to protect its stake in the market for England football shirts.

The owner of rival retailer Sports World, Sports Direct International, already owns a 15% stake in Umbro.

In addition to the England team, Umbro also provides kit for the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway, and Sweden.

In the Scottish Premier League, Umbro supplies kit to Rangers and Hearts.

'Excellent deal'

Under the terms of the offer, Umbro shareholders will receive 193.06p for each share. Umbro's shares closed up 25.25p, or 15.3%, at 190.25p.

There is an ongoing battle between Nike and Adidas to sign up the very top teams
Nigel Currie, Brand Rapport

The chief executive of Umbro, Steve Makin, said the offer was an "excellent deal" for shareholders.

"We will be a stronger and better business as part of Nike and this deal will allow us to accelerate our existing growth strategy by leveraging Nike's global resources and expertise," he added.

Brian Barwick, the chief executive of the FA, said: "We are delighted that the proposed acquisition will allow us to continue our strong historical relationship with Umbro while benefiting from the marketing expertise and financial strength of Nike."

"Nike has provided firm assurances that the FA relationship with Umbro will be protected and enhanced, and we look forward to working closely with both companies moving forward," Mr Barwick added.

'World class brand'

Nike began moving into football in the early 1990s and has been steadily expanding its share of the market, catching up with German rival Adidas.

"There is an ongoing battle between Nike and Adidas to sign up the very top teams," said Nigel Currie, director at sports brand experts Brand Rapport.

"From a marketability point of view, the Nike brand is very appealing to top clubs and international federations," he added.

In its offer document, Nike said Umbro was "a world-class, authentic football brand, with well established positions in key growth markets and a deep football heritage".

"As such, Umbro is highly complementary to Nike's existing football business and it is intended that it will operate as an independent, UK headquartered Nike affiliate," the US firm said.

JJB Sports acquires 10% of Umbro
19 Oct 07 |  Business
Bid interest for kitmaker Umbro
18 Oct 07 |  Business
Adidas shares bounce on bid talk
18 Apr 07 |  Business
England shirt demand boosts Umbro
06 Jul 06 |  Business

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