Triathlete Magazine slated to be sold in blockbuster private equity deal

The sale of Triathlete and Competitor Magazines, as well as Elite Racing, owner of many of North America's largest footraces, appears imminent. Both magazines are part of a blockbuster deal that places top caliber endurance events and media under the same ownership.

According to sources close to the deal who spoke on condition of anonymity, Falconhead Capital hopes to finalize the acquisition of several event and media properties this week. The private equity firm based in New York City lists about a dozen members of its investment team on its website, one of whom is Peter Englehart, a former Senior Vice President for Outdoor Life Network.

Mr. Englehart's current venture places under one ownership roof Triathlete and Competitor Magazines as well as the Rock & Roll and Country Music Marathons and Half-Marathons, the Carlsbad 5000, the Muddy Buddy Series, the Competitor Sports Awards, and probably the Sea Otter Classic., a media partnership jointly owned by principals at Competitor Magazine and Windy City Sports, is also to be acquired by Falconhead.

Multiple sources agree the process for adding the Sea Otter Classic, the United States' largest participation cycling competition, to the stable of properties is not on the same schedule as the aforementioned companies and that addition, should it occur, will most likely happen in the New Year.

This is not the first sports-related deal in which Mr. Englehart was the principle player. During his tenure with OLN he was instrumental in bringing the Tour de France to American television by airing it live on OLN, now the Versus Channel. Prior to his work at OLN he was an executive at ABC and ESPN, and founder of an Internet-based trade show network, the Convention & Trade Show Television Network, LLC (CTS-TV).

The theme of the deal appears to be to aggregate many of the top events in running and cycling, and to leverage the ownership of these sports' magazines to help control and enhance the promotion and coverage of the events. What is not known is the television or internet angle, not to be discounted considering Englehart's extensive background in both media.

The leveraging of events and magazines makes for a compelling narrative for these acquisitions, but does not explain the lack of a magazine to promote Sea Otter, and the lack of a set of events for Triathlete Magazine to promote. In the case of cycling, Falconhead made a hard run at Velo News, but could not close the deal. The rationale for Triathlete Magazine is not apparent as of yet. Multiple sources close to the deal speculate that triathlon event properties may be acquired as add-ons to the current aggregation.

Mr. Englehart is expected to move to San Diego as CEO of the combined company, which will operate under the Competitor-brand umbrella. It is not unusual for private equity partners to relocate and run their new acquisitions for a period of time.

John Duke, the by-all-accounts successful publisher of Triathlete Magazine, is expected to publish all the magazine titles which, along with Triathlete and Competitor Magazines, will include associated Competitor publications such as City Sports, as well as titles which might be acquired at a later date.

Elite Racing's new headquarters, situated in Mira Mesa, is expected to be house the combined properties, including the magazines.

Several calls and emails to Falconhead Capital were unreturned, as were calls to Triathlete Magazine. Competitor Magazine issued a "no comment" and Frank Yohannan, Sea Otter's CEO, acknowledged discussions with Falconhead but said no deal is imminent. Elite Racing's owner, Tim Murphy, acknowledged that he is investigating "a merger with Falconhead Capital out of New York City," but he stressed that no deal is done as of now.