Worldwide Sports & Recreation, a US company known also as Bushnell Sports Optics, plans to complete at midnight today the takeover of Serengeti Eyewear, the US premium-quality sunglass company acquired by Stephen «Rusty» Nevitt from Corning in February 1997 for $27.5 million. Nevitt, who has been running Serengeti since the takeover, has agreed to remain involved as a consultant over the next 3 years. The management, which owns about 51 percent of Serengeti, has already agreed to tender their shares, ensuring completion of the deal.
Bushnell has agreed to pay $9.48 million for Serengeti's ordinary shares, plus $22.5 million for its preferred stock, which is held by an Austrian bank, RBB. The company turned around last year to a net profit of $1,557,650 from the previous year's loss of $5,289,000, but it still made a loss of $6,350,000 after dividend payments on its preferred shares. Serengeti's sales dropped to $38,429,533 and they are projected to decline again this year to $37.2 million, but its European sales should increase by about 15 percent to about $6.3 million. A recent business plan calls for European sales of $25-30 million in 3 years' time, as compared to $2 million two years ago, and for total sales of $70 milion.
Known for its exclusive anti-UV technology, Serengeti is the 7th largest supplier of sunglasses in the USA, but it claims to be number three after Ray-Ban and Oakley in terms of assisted recognition. Under Nevitt, Serengeti has improved its design and its corporate image, added polycarbonate lenses, and expanded foreign distribution. It has hired distributors in most European countries, and it recently set up prescription laboratories in the UK, France and Belgium.
Wind Point Partners acquired Worldwide Sports & Recreation one year ago for $60 million. Known for its binoculars, telescopes and night vision and range finders, Bushnell derived 18 percent of its 1999 sales of $162.8 million from sunglasses. It made a big stride into the premium-quality sunglass market last February by acquiring Bollé, the French-based sports optics firm, for $85 million. Bollé has started to distribute Bushnell's binoculars in the optical circuit in France, giving a clue of what Bushnell may do with Serengeti.