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Bauer moves into baseball with purchase of bat maker

Ice-hockey equipment maker Bauer Performance Sports Ltd. is swinging for the fences.

The company said on Thursday it has struck a deal to buy Combat Sports Group, a major designer of composite baseball and softball bats that also makes hockey sticks and lacrosse shafts.

Bauer chief executive Kevin Davis says the acquisition is part of an ongoing corporate strategy to diversify into other sports besides hockey.

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An aggressive growth plan in the fast-growing lacrosse market is already underway, after Bauer's purchase last year of Cascade Helmets Holdings Inc., a New York-based designer and manufacturer of lacrosse helmets and eyewear.

While Bauer wants to use Combat's composite technologies to innovate in the hockey and lacrosse segments, it's also keen on building up the baseball-bat business, said Mr. Davis.

"That's an integral part of the excitement of the company," he said about Combat's portfolio of bat products, mostly for amateur baseball and softball.

Bauer will provide Combat with the capital it needs to grow and "meet their true potential," he said.

At the same time, Bauer wants to be able to offer "one-stop shopping" for hockey, lacrosse and baseball in everything from equipment and accessories to on-field and off-field apparel, said Mr. Davis.

The Combat acquisition – financial details were not disclosed – will be funded from cash on hand and is expected to be accretive in the first year of operation, Bauer said in a news release Thursday.

Closing of the deal is anticipated in the coming weeks.

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"Our expectation is that Canadian-based Combat will remain in its current Ottawa, Ontario and Kent, Washington locations, and we intend to continue manufacturing in Canada," said Mr. Davis.

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About the Author
Quebec Business Correspondent

Bertrand has been covering Quebec business and finance since 2000. Before joining The Globe and Mail in 2000, he was the Toronto-based national business correspondent for Southam News. He has a B.A. from McGill University and a Bachelor of Applied Arts from Ryerson. More

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