Feb 7, 2023
Billionaire Benko Writes Off $261 Million at Cycling Unit Wiggle
(Bloomberg) -- Austrian real estate investor and billionaire Rene Benko wrote off the expected benefits of a merger with cycling retailer Wiggle Group before injecting more capital into his troubled sports retail business.
The sports retailer Signa Sports United booked a €566 million ($605 million) loss in the year ending September, in part due to a €244 million impairment on goodwill related to the purchase of cycling retailer Wiggle, according to the annual report of Signa Sports United published Tuesday.
Shares of Signa Sports have lost more than half of their value since a SPAC-listing in December 2021 amid waning demand and supply difficulties. Fellow billionaire Ron Burkle’s special purpose acquisition Yucaipa Acquisition Corp. agreed to combine with Signa Sports in a deal with an implied enterprise value of about $3.2 billion.
However the SPAC deal has struggled, with Signa Sports currently worth about $1.6 billion. The company sells sporting goods online through a host of brands and specialist websites, including Bikester, Campz and Outfitter. The company served more buyers last year, but order sizes and profitability fell.
Benko’s Signa Holding committed €130 million in further capital for a potential convertible bond sale and an upfront bridge loan of as much as €50 million until that transaction materializes. That’s on top of a €100 million injection via a debt sale last year.
His businesses have come under scrutiny as stalling prices risk a $25 billion real estate empire and inflation softens demand at his retail division. Administrators started insolvency proceedings at his German department-store chain Galeria last week.
The financial commitments are intended to address what the company said was a “very precarious liquidity situation” since the end of September and help it stay afloat until mid-February 2024.
Signa Sports expects to return to a profit in 2024, according to the earnings report.
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