Exit: Equistone sells Sport Group to KPS Capital Partners

Photo: Dr. Marc Arens, Senior Part­ner & Coun­try Head DACH/NL at Equistone
9. April 2024

Munich/Burgheim/New York City — Funds advi­sed by Equis­tone Part­ners Europe (“Equis­tone”) sell their majo­rity stake in Sport Group to KPS Capi­tal Part­ners, LP (“KPS”) follo­wing a successful part­ner­ship. — With the support of Equis­tone, the Bava­rian-based group of compa­nies has deve­lo­ped into a leading inter­na­tio­nal specia­list for arti­fi­cial turf and synthe­tic sports and leisure surfaces for outdoor use. Toge­ther with the new owner KPS, this growth course is to be contin­ued. The tran­sac­tion, the finan­cial details of which are not being disc­lo­sed, is subject to the usual regu­la­tory approvals.

Sport Group was foun­ded in 1969 and opera­tes as a global player in the manu­fac­ture of arti­fi­cial turf systems and synthe­tic floor cove­rings for sports and leisure with a strong presence in its home market of Germany as well as in Europe, Austra­lia and the USA. Based in Burg­heim, Bava­ria, the Group offers its custo­mers, inclu­ding well-known soccer clubs and sports compa­nies and orga­ni­zers such as FC Bayern Munich, the US Open and the Olym­pic Games, a compre­hen­sive product port­fo­lio in the form of arti­fi­cial turf, poly­ure­thane surfaces and compon­ents for indus­trial and land­sca­ping applications.

A central compo­nent of the Sport Group’s range of services is end-to-end project support: from the procu­re­ment of raw mate­ri­als and instal­la­tion to after-sales services and main­ten­ance. With a strong focus on rese­arch and deve­lo­p­ment, parti­cu­larly in the area of sustaina­bi­lity, Sport Group has estab­lished itself as an indus­try pioneer for sustainable tech­no­lo­gies, products and services, inclu­ding the deve­lo­p­ment of the world’s first carbon-neutral soccer and field field hockey turf and the first and so far only recy­cling plant for arti­fi­cial turf and EPDM rubber. The Group curr­ently unites 19 subsi­dia­ries in nine count­ries under one roof and employs more than 1,900 people worldwide.

In June 2015, Equis­tone acqui­red a majo­rity stake in the Sport Group

Since then, the specia­list for sports surfaces has driven forward its ambi­tious growth targets with the support of Equis­tone: With a total of nine successfully reali­zed acqui­si­ti­ons during the holding period, the group size has been sustain­ably expan­ded, as has its geogra­phi­cal presence in key growth markets such as Austra­lia, the USA and Malay­sia. Another focus was on the conti­nuous expan­sion of Group-wide sustaina­bi­lity exper­tise: the deve­lo­p­ment of sustainable products was signi­fi­cantly advan­ced with targe­ted invest­ments; the profi­ta­bi­lity and profes­sio­na­liza­tion of the Group was also sustain­ably streng­the­ned and adapted to the incre­asing growth. During the joint part­ner­ship with Equis­tone, the Sport Group has thus succee­ded in more than doubling its corpo­rate sales — despite a chal­len­ging econo­mic envi­ron­ment due to the coro­na­vi­rus pande­mic and disrupted supply chains.

Toge­ther with the new owner KPS, the Sport Group’s growth is now to be taken to a new level. “The global dimen­sion and the large number of growth oppor­tu­ni­ties in this market segment make long-term invest­ments very attrac­tive. Sport Group has deve­lo­ped extre­mely well in recent years. The stra­te­gic steps we have taken toge­ther with the manage­ment team have sustain­ably streng­the­ned the company and helped to expand its leading posi­tion in the Euro­pean market to the inter­na­tio­nal arena,” explains Dr. Marc Arens, Senior Part­ner and Coun­try Head DACH/NL at Equistone.

Chris­toph von Nitzsch, CEO of Sport Group, adds: “The joint part­ner­ship with Equis­tone has been extre­mely successful — toge­ther we have been able to signi­fi­cantly inten­sify our growth in recent years and conti­nue our inter­na­tio­nal expan­sion. We look forward to conti­nuing this successful course with KPS and to further advan­cing our goal of setting new stan­dards in sustaina­bi­lity within our industry.”

On the Equis­tone side, the funds were advi­sed by Dr. Marc Arens, Maxi­mi­lian Göppert, Moritz Treude and Mark Feiler.

Advi­sor to Equistone: 

Houli­han Lokey (Lead M&A), William Blair (M&A),
BCG (Commer­cial)
Deloitte (Finan­cial)
Ernst&Young (Tax & EHS)
Latham (Legal)
PwC (Data Analytics)
Crescendo (Commu­ni­ca­ti­ons)
Good­win (finan­cing)

Latham & Watkins LLP advi­sed Equis­tone Part­ners Europe with the follo­wing team:

Burc Hesse (Part­ner, lead), Dr. Sebas­tian Pauls (Part­ner), Dr. Julia Schö­fer, Dr. Manuel Schmutz­ler, Julian Glaub, Dr. Corinna Freu­den­ma­cher (all Asso­ciate, all Corpo­rate, Munich), Dr. Susan Kempe-Müller (Part­ner), Daniela Jaeger, Gracia Engwaya (both Asso­ciate, all IP), Dr. Max Hauser (Part­ner), Judith Jacob (Asso­ciate, both Anti­trust), Joachim Gritt­mann (Coun­sel, Regu­la­tory), Dr. Wolf-Tassilo Böhm (Coun­sel), Clemens Ganz (Asso­ciate, both Data Protec­tion), Sven Nickel (Coun­sel), Marie-Chris­­tine Welp (Asso­ciate, both Real Estate), Ralph Drae­ger, Verena Birke (both Asso­ciate, Finance, all Frank­furt), Dr. Ulf Kieker (Part­ner), Manuela Minsel (Asso­ciate, Tax), Dr. Tobias Leder (Part­ner), Martina Hölzer (Asso­ciate, both Employ­ment, all Munich), Dr. Stefan Bartz (Coun­sel, Compli­ance), Kath­rin Krim­mer (Legal Analyst, Liti­ga­tion, both Hamburg), and with further support from the Latham & Watkins offices in London, Hous­ton, Boston and Washing­ton D.C.

About Equis­tone Part­ners Europe

The funds advi­sed by Equis­tone Part­ners Europe are among the most active Euro­pean equity inves­tors with a team of more than 40 invest­ment specia­lists in seven offices in Germany, Switz­er­land, the Nether­lands, France and the UK. The Equis­tone funds invest prima­rily in estab­lished medium-sized compa­nies with a good market posi­tion, above-average growth poten­tial and an enter­prise value of between EUR 50 and 500 million. Since incep­tion, the funds have inves­ted equity in more than 180 tran­sac­tions. The port­fo­lio of Equis­tone funds curr­ently compri­ses around 50 compa­nies across Europe, inclu­ding around 20 invest­ments in Germany, Switz­er­land, the Nether­lands and Belgium. For more infor­ma­tion, visit

About Sport Group

About KPS Capi­tal Part­ners, LP

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