Originally written January 28, 2013 on Sports Business Digest:
It was all good, a few months ago. Dwyane Wade had just signed a new endorsement deal with Chinese sportswear company, Li-Ning. The multi-million dollar deal, which some estimated would pay Wade $100 million over the next 10 years, also gave Wade a significant equity stake in Li-Ning. As it turns out, Wade's newest partial acquisition? It is not doing too well. Li-Ning's share price dropped nearly 15% on Friday as the company planned to issue nearly $250M worth of convertible securities for capital restructuring, as it tries to reverse two sub-par years of performance. While Li-Ning is a strong brand name throughout China, the company has spent the last few years dealing with unsold inventory and increasing competition not only from well-known competitors such as Nike and Adidas, but a number of local Chinese have flooded the market, (such as Peak, who recently signed Spurs guard Tony Parker to an endorsement deal) looking to lay claim to Li-Ning's throne. But, now in the middle of restructuring, is the company seriously in trouble? Well...maybe, “They are in a lot of trouble, and this latest news shows the situation is even worse than we thought,” said Shaun Rein of China Market Research in Shanghai. “They may not be able to continue as a standalone concern in a year or two,” he said. (via Financial Times) It is estimated that the company will report a nearly $20 million dollar net loss for 2012, as the company looks to streamline its inventory management moving forward, hence the need to restructure the business. And what of Wade? His new WADE line with Li-Ning has yet to have a large release here in the United States, and, as mentioned, the company itself is going through a costly restructuring, while suffering significant losses. While Wade surely evaluated the risk of signing with Li-Ning, he didn't seem too concerned with the company's standing when he signed the partnership deal last October, "I first visited China in 2008, when I competed in the Beijing Olympics, and was deeply moved by the country's genuine passion for basketball," said Wade. "I have been blessed with an opportunity to make an impact on the game in the United States, and I look forward to now being active with the sport on a more global level. I am honored to join forces with LI-NING and grow the game, beginning in China, which is home to more basketball players – 200 million – than any other country in the world." While it is certainly too early to write Li-Ning off -- some analysts expected huge losses for 2012; a bottoming out in order to right the ship, one has to wonder if Wade has any concerns that his first shoe deal outside of the Nike umbrella (Wade initially signed a shoe deal with Converse, which was purchased by Nike a few weeks later) is off to such a rocky start.
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