Prince Sports Inc., the Bordentown-based maker of tennis racquets, has filed for bankruptcy protection and will be acquired by a New York firm that manages a variety of consumer brands.
In a filing with federal bankruptcy court in Wilmington May 1, the 42-year-old Prince Sports blamed its grim financial straits on declines in the global market for racquet sports as well as increased competition over the last five years.
The company reported the book value of its assets as $54.2 million and about $77 million in liabilities.
Last fall, Prince Sports hired the investment banking firm Robert W. Baird & Co. to explore possible licensing arrangements or asset sales, according to court documents. In December, that mission changed to focusing on a possible sale of the company, which owed $65 million to its secured lenders, GE Capital and Madison Capital.
In March, Authentic Brands Group L.L.C., which works with the private-equity firm Leonard Green & Partners L.P., acquired all of that secured debt and expressed interest in acquiring Prince Sports.
In a statement, Prince Sports president and CEO Gordon Boggis said that the board and management "firmly believe that the Chapter 11 filing is not only a necessary step but also the right thing to do to ensure a secure future for Prince."
Boggis, who has been CEO since August 2010, said the company expects to emerge from bankruptcy "a more efficient, performance racquet sports brand with a more competitive model in the market, while eliminating the economic constraints that have prohibited the brand from achieving its potential."
Prince Sports generated sales of about $72 million for its most recent fiscal year, with $37 million coming from the North American market. Tennis racquests and other equipment account for 83 percent of its annual revenues, while squash, racquetball and platform tennis provide the rest.
The company, which was been owned by Nautic Partners L.L.C. since August 2007, listed 138 employees on its list of vendors in documents filed in Wilmington.