Canadian fund buys Helly Hansen

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The longtime Norwegian maker of stormy weather gear that later evolved into high fashion, Helly Hansen, has been sold for around NOK 1.5 billion to the Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan in a move that nets handsome gains for its investors and several top executives. The Norwegian executives, though, aren’t bailing out of the business.

“With OTPP (the Canadian pension fund) on board, we’ll get expertise to expand further, especially in North America,” Helly Hansen chief executive Peter Sjölander told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN). “Our goal of reaching revenues of a billion dollars still stands.”

Helly Hansen, founded in the town of Moss by Helly Juell Hansen and his wife Maren Margarethe in 1877, is now based in Oslo. Sportswear makes up around two-thirds of its annual revenues, which reached NOK 1.6 billion (USD 270 million) last year, with distribution in 43 countries, reported DN. Its Helly Hansen Pro subisidary, which manufactures survival suits for the maritime industry, was sold in 2010 for NOK 900 million.

Sjölander told DN that he and top management intended to remain with the company under its new ownership. Helly Hansen has had several different owners during the past 20 years, including Norwegian companies Nora and Orkla and Norwegian industrialist Kjell Inge Røkke, along with the Arabic investment firm Investcorp and investment fund Altor, which bought 85 percent of Helly Hansen in 2006. Altor is now selling 75 percent of its holding to OTTP but retaining 25 percent, reported DN, in the hopes an industrial buyer will bid for the company in the future.

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