PON Completes Purchase of Cervelo Cycles

Triathlon's most storied bike company, Cervelo Cycles, has just become a member of the PON family of companies. The Dutch company PON Holdings acquired Cervelo Cycles from its two founding partners Gerard Vroomen and Phil White.

PON Holdings is entirely involved in transportation. It's variously a distributor, seller, owner, financer of products like—according to its website—"passenger cars, commercial vehicles, trucks, buses, bicycles, tires, road construction and earthmoving equipment and products for shipping, off-shore, transport and logistics." PON is famously involved with Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche and Caterpillar.

While in the past PON has almost exclusively involved itself in motorized vehicles, over the past six months it acquired two bike companies: Derby Cycle AG and Dutch Royal Gazelle. Of course, with Derby and Gazelle PON enters the motorized—electric—bicycle market in a big way. But non-motorized bicycles make up a big part of these companies, the brands of which include Raleigh and Focus, among others.

If the German brand Focus represents the Porsche in PON's bike lineup, Cervelo will be its Lamborghini. Vertical brand segmentation is typical of PON's strategy, which makes the Cervelo acquisition similar in theme to how PON has chosen to buy companies in the past.

While PON's announcement that the day-to-day operations will not change at Cervelo, and that the brand integrity will be maintained, that's a claim acquirers universally make, just before they dismantle the management team, recognize efficiencies, leverage brand assets, and relocate the brand away from its cultural roots to be under the nose and thumb of senior management. But PON has a history of not doing that, and recognizing the benefits of keeping brands operating where they are and under the management that was in place prior to the acquisition.

Phil White will remain as CEO of Cervelo, which will stay headquartered in Toronto.

Gerard Vroomen will stay on as a European-based consultant. Vroomen lives in the Netherlands, where PON Holdings is domiciled. According to the press release announcing the deal, "Vroomen will assume a (part-time) role as Business Development Manager within PBG, focusing on special projects for the Group."