Competitor Sold to Calera Capital

Calera Capital, a private equity group, is the new owner of Competitor Group, according to sources inside the producer of such august flagship endurance brands as Rock 'n' Roll Marathons, VeloNews, Triathlete Magazine, Muddy Buddy, Competitor Magazine, TriRock triathlon series and VeloPress publishing.

Calera Capital has $2.8 billion of private equity capital under management. This is a mid-sized firm relative to those brands currently in the endurance sports space. The group selling Competitor Group is Falconhead Capital which, as an example, has $500 million in funds under management, and Providence Equity Partners, owners of World Triathlon Corporation (Ironman) has $27 billion under management. Leonard Green & Partners, investors in the HITS Triathlon Series, has in excess of $10 billion under management.

The announcement of Calera Capital buying Competitor Group is the culmination of a successful cycle of acquisitions and management by Falconhead Capital. Falconhead’s acquisition of its various brands was detailed here back in December of 2007. Scott Dickey, the current CEO of Competitor Group, was brought in by Falconhead Capital to run and build the company, and engineered the sale to Calera Capital. He is expected to remain as CEO of Competitor Group.

Runner’s World famously got it very wrong when it announced the sale of Competitor Group last September to Amaury Sports Organization, owners of the Tour de France. It gave air to a rumor published by one of its former editors. In fact, sources close to the deal confirm that ASO was never in serious consideration as a buyer, and never made an offer for the company.

The process is the culmination of a months-long process where dozens of companies were invited to bid on Competitor Group. One of the principals at Calera Capital is David Lorsch, himself an athlete. Indeed, his Athlinks page betrays the 42-year-old’s considerable talent—he’s no MOPer. Over the next few days Slowtwitch will interview the principals and analyze the impact of the sale on the endurance sport industry.