Ruyi Group Plans Purchase of Trench Coat Maker Aquascutum

  • Chinese textile firm aims to buy iconic brand for $120 million
  • Ruyi conducts due diligence on business owned by YGM Trading

Shandong Ruyi Group plans to acquire iconic British trench coat maker Aquascutum for about $120 million, people with knowledge of the matter said, as Chinese companies extend a record overseas dealmaking spree.

The Chinese textile producer, which bought control of French fashion group SMCP earlier this year, plans to buy the Aquascutum business from Hong Kong-listed YGM Trading Ltd. and is currently conducting due diligence, according to the people. Shandong Ruyi hopes to reach a final agreement in the next few weeks, one the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private.

Shandong Ruyi joins Fosun International Ltd. and Qingdao Haier Co. in seeking to acquire foreign consumer brands that can be marketed to increasingly affluent Chinese shoppers. Chinese companies have announced $50.2 billion of overseas consumer acquisitions this year, up from $24.3 billion during the same period in 2015, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Shares of YGM Trading, which also distributes the Ashworth line of golf apparel, have risen 46 percent this year, giving the company a market value of $156 million. YGM Trading said in an Oct. 17 exchange filing it had signed a memorandum of understanding to sell its Aquascutum brand business for about $120 million, without naming the buyers.

There’s no certainty the deliberations will result in a transaction, the people said. A representative for YGM Trading said she couldn’t immediately comment. A person who answered the phone at Shandong Ruyi’s headquarters in eastern China said nobody was available to answer queries.

Aquascutum was founded in 1851 in London’s tony Mayfair district by tailor John Emary, who invented a rain-repellent fabric, YGM’s website shows. The company’s trench coats, developed for use by the British military, were later worn by U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and American film star Humphrey Bogart, according to Aquascutum’s website. YGM Trading became the global owner of the brand in 2012. 

Shandong Ruyi bought control of SMCP, the French fashion group that owns affordable luxury labels Sandro, Maje and Claudie Pierlot, from private equity firm KKR & Co. earlier this year. The Chinese textile producer has also invested in clothing companies including Tokyo-based Renown Inc., which sells the Aquascutum, Arnold Palmer and D’urban brands in Japan.

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