FSN Capital and Verdane agree investment in Active Brands to support new phase of growth
Verdane, the European specialist growth equity investor, and FSN Capital, the Northern European private equity firm, have announced an agreement to invest in Active Brands, a fast-growing house of premium outdoor sports apparel and equipment brands headquartered in Oslo, Norway. The investment will strengthen Active Brands’ leadership position in the outdoor industry and support continued international expansion and M&A. As part of the transaction, FSN Capital, which first partnered with Active Brands in 2017, will remain invested in the Company, while Verdane will become a new significant minority shareholder. The transaction is subject to approval from relevant authorities.
Founded in 2009, Active Brands is a house of brands focused on the premium outdoor sports apparel and equipment market segments. It has evolved from a Norwegian brand incubator to an international brand accelerator, having strengthened its operations and expanded distribution outside its Norwegian home market during its initial growth journey with FSN Capital. The Company had sales of more than 1.35 billion NOK in 2021. Active Brands’ portfolio includes Norway-based brands such as Kari Traa, Sweet Protection, Johaug, Dæhlie, Bula, Åsnes and Vossatassar. With Verdane and FSN Capital as partners, Active Brands is expected to continue on its highly attractive organic growth path, which will now be further complemented by the Company’s strategic M&A ambitions.
FSN Capital and Verdane will seek to drive an active ownership agenda, working closely with CEO Christophe Merkel, who joined Active Brands from Nike in March 2021 to further internationalise and digitalise the business. The Company will benefit from the support of Verdane’s digital growth expertise, including its in-house operational expert team Elevate, which will help accelerate the company’s e-commerce growth and strengthen related back-end digital capabilities.
Eskil Koffeld, Principal at FSN Capital, commented: “Active Brands is now equipped for a significant acceleration in its development, with a continued push into international markets and an accelerated shift toward digital channels. With Verdane’s growth focus and digital consumer experience, Verdane is seen as an ideal partner to FSN VI to contribute to the next growth phase of Active Brands. FSN Capital VI looks forward to a successful collaboration together with CEO Christophe Merkel and his team.”
Hanna Eiderbrant, Principal at Verdane, commented: “We are excited to embark on this growth journey with the teams at Active Brands and FSN, and look forward to contributing with digital growth expertise, internationalisation experience, and local networks across Europe. Together with FSN, Active Brands has positioned itself as a leading, sustainable brand accelerator for outdoor sports brands globally, and we are pleased to now join the next stage of this exciting transformation.”
Christophe Merkel, CEO of Active Brands, commented: “With the active ownership and support from Verdane and FSN Capital, we are confident we can further accelerate the fantastic growth journey we have experienced so far across all our brands, always at the service of an active lifestyle in the outdoors for professional and everyday athletes around the world.”
Verdane will invest through Verdane Edda II, alongside FSN Capital VI. Verdane’s role as a third party investing together with FSN Capital VI and existing shareholders was key to enabling a robust valuation process, as FSN Capital IV exits its holdings in the company. FSN Capital VI will be the majority shareholder in the company, while Verdane Edda II will have a significant minority holding.