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Rocky to Expand Boot Portfolio With $230M Buy; Cole Haan Nixes IPO

As Cole Haan calls off plans for an initial public offering, another footwear giant is moving forward with a multi-million-dollar move of its own.

Cole Haan withdraws IPO

Almost a year and a half after it first confirmed rumors of an IPO, Cole Haan has withdrawn plans to go public.

The footwear firm officially applied for an IPO with regulatory authorities back in October 2019, and in February it finally filed for what it estimated to be a $100 million IPO. Less than a month later, however, uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic prompted a dramatic stock market crash and Cole Haan consequently decided to delay its IPO, Reuters reported at the time.

With the one-year anniversary of its IPO filing just weeks away, Cole Haan filed to withdraw the offering Friday. When Renaissance Capital, an SEC-registered investment adviser, reported the move last week, it estimated the IPO to have been worth $200 million.

Rocky Brands, Honeywell enter $230M agreement

Rocky Brands has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase Honeywell’s performance and lifestyle footwear business for $230 million, both companies announced Monday. The deal, they said, is expected to close by the end of the first quarter pending customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals.

Under the agreement, Honeywell will divest five brands it deems “non-core” to its business: The Original Muck Boot Co., fishing boot and deck shoe outfitter Xtratuf, cold and wet weather boot brand Ranger, overshoes label Neos and protective rubber boot brand Servus.

Xtratuf announced this month plans to expand into sneakers
Xtratuf announced plans this month to expand into sneakers. Xtratuf

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“These are well-respected brands beloved by professionals and outdoor enthusiasts for work and play, and we’re proud of our team that has grown this business in recent years,” John Waldron, president and CEO of Honeywell Safety and Productivity Solutions, said in a statement. “We’re excited for them to join Rocky Brands, who will continue to accelerate growth by leveraging its significant industry knowledge and expertise.”

Honeywell will continue to manufacture industrial safety footwear for workers under Oliver, MTS, Honeywell Bacou and other such brands, it noted.

The five acquired brands brought in a net revenue of approximately $205 million in 2020 with earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of approximately $24.5 million, Rocky said. The business grew in 2020 with performance accelerating throughout the year, culminating in strong top-line growth in the fourth quarter, it added.

Rocky—home to boot brands like Rocky, Georgia Boot, Durango and Lehigh—posted net sales of $189.7 million for the nine months ending Sept. 30. It has not yet announced its full-year 2020 earnings.

While Honeywell said the transaction will have no impact on its financial guidance, Rocky president and CEO Jason Brooks said the purchase will “greatly enhance” the company’s brand portfolio and “significantly increase” sales and profitability.

“We’re acquiring a well-run business with a corporate culture and a customer base similar to ours, which provides meaningful growth opportunities within our existing categories as well as an entrée into new market segments,” Brooks said in a statement. “Its innovative and authentic product collections complement our existing offering with minimal overlap, which will allow us to strengthen our wholesale relationships and serve a wider consumer audience. At the same time, we plan to leverage Rocky’s advanced fulfillment capabilities to improve distribution of the new brands to wholesale customers and accelerate direct-to-consumer penetration.”

Rocky is funding the purchase with an $80 million senior secured asset-backed credit facility with Bank of America, N.A. and a $130 million senior secured term loan facility with The Direct Lending Group of TCW Asset Management Company LLC, as well as cash on hand. The credit facility bears interest at the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) plus 1.5 percent and the term loan bears interest at LIBOR plus 7 percent.

B. Riley Securities served as financial advisor to Rocky Brands and provided its board of directors with a fairness opinion. Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP served as legal counsel to Rocky Brands, Inc. Centerview Partners served as the financial advisor to Honeywell and Crowell & Moring LLP served as legal counsel.