MLB buys Rawlings, seeking more control over baseball production

Major League Baseball is partnering with private equity firm Seidler Equity Partners to purchase Rawlings Sporting Goods Company for $395 million, the league’s longtime baseball and helmet supplier.

Newell Brands, the previous owner of Rawlings, said it would use the sale proceeds to fund share buybacks and reduce its debt load. Rawlings posted net sales of roughly $330 million in fiscal 2017.

“MLB is excited to take an ownership position in one of the most iconic brands in sports and further build on the Rawlings legacy, which dates back to 1887,” said Chris Marinak, MLB’s executive vice president for strategy, technology and innovation. “We are particularly interested in providing even more input and direction on the production of the official ball of Major League Baseball, one of the most important on-field products to the play of our great game.”

Newell had acquired Rawlings in 2016. The Hoboken, New Jersey, company also owns Sharpie and Rubbermaid.

“We are pleased with the agreement to sell Rawlings at an attractive multiple,” said Michael Polk, Newell Brands president and chief executive officer. “Rawlings is an iconic brand and Seidler Equity Partners, in partnership with Major League Baseball, will identify new opportunities for this brand and for the company’s employees. This transaction is a pivotal step in our company’s transformation to become a more focused, forward-facing consumer goods company with tremendous opportunities.”

The sporting goods manufacturer has about 1,200 employees globally, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The company’s sale is expected to close within the next 45 days.