Sep 24 2012

BC News: BD to buy Pieps


BD to buy Pieps and turbo-charge their
Avalanche and Electronic futures.
Tip: buy BD stock last week.

Black Diamond Equipment, Inc., announced this morning its intent to acquire Pieps, a leader in avalanche rescue transceivers in early October, 2012. The acquisition fulfills a decade-long goal to add avalanche transceivers to the palette of products Black Diamond offers for backcountry safety.

Over the years there has been much speculation as to whether BD would acquire an avalanche transceiver company, and which one, or start from scratch on their own. In answering “Why Pieps,” Black Diamond’s CEO, Peter Metcalf said, “Black Diamond’s acquisition of PIEPS reflects our ongoing strategy to assemble the best and brightest global companies that lead the charge in creating safer travel and backcountry adventure experiences.”

Pieps Vector avalanche transceiver showing Li-ion battery life

Pieps Vector display showing battery life left for their rechargeable Li-ion battery. It shows more than percentage, it shows time available to transmit, or receive.

It is worth noting that Pieps has been at the forefront of several innovations in avalanche transceiver technology, including being the first avalanche beacon to use three antennas, the first to provide the ability to mask ‘found’ signals, and with the delivery of their most recent model, the Vector, the first to use lithium-ion batteries for longer life and reliability in cold temperatrues and the first to integrate GPS tracking for improved search functionality or day-to-day use as a navigation tool. In conjunction with the GPS features, Pieps is the only authorized European Iridium satellite network partner in the alpine sport and outdoor markets.

Metcalf went on to point out, “Pieps has a powerful set of core competencies, a pipeline of innovative products in development , and a tight committed team. What it doesn’t have is what Black Diamond provides – a global operating platform, global distribution, and a more robust design group.”

Regarding the acquisition, Pieps CEO Michael Schoeber said, “The joint power of Black Diamond’s global operational resources and PIEPS’ leading alpine search and rescue technology creates a powerful platform for further product development. We believe that Black Diamond’s existing and planned electronic products will be supported with our extensive technical experience developing and manufacturing avalanche beacons and other electronic devices. In Black Diamond, we are confident that we have found our ideal match to cultivate our brand and look forward to continue delivering premium alpine performance products.”

A hasty rendition of next year’s display for the Pieps DSP.

Under the terms of the agreement, BD will purchase Pieps from the SEIDEL Group, for approximately $10.4 million in cash, while also assuming $2.7 million in debt with a potential bonus payment of $3.0 million dependent upon Pieps achieving sales targets by the end of March, 2015.

“PIEPS will be run as a semi-autonomous, discrete but closely linked Black Diamond brand that we believe will benefit directly from our operational infrastructure that is similarly tailored to highly engineered, life-dependent products,” continued Metcalf. “We also expect to grow PIEPS’ sales in those markets and geographies covered by Black Diamond’s global distribution platform. PIEPS has historically generated higher gross margin than a typical hard goods company and we expect that to have a positive impact on our overall average gross margin. PIEPS intellectual property, specifically its avalanche technology—including their paradigm-changing Global Finder—supports Black Diamond’s continuing focus on developing our electronic technology and applications product portfolio. We believe that all of these factors make PIEPS an ideal acquisition for Black Diamond as we advance our strategy to become the world’s most respected outdoor equipment and lifestyle company.”

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Skiing Business Interview w/BD Pres. & CEO Peter Metcalf

© 2012