Nike announced last week that it has agreed to buy legendary basketball shoemaker Converse for $305 million.
Formerly the dominant force in the basketball shoe market from its start in 1908 until the emergence of Nike’s Air Jordan in the 1980s, North Andover, MA-based Converse fell on hard times recently, filing for bankruptcy protection on 2001.
For the fiscal year ended May 31, Nike, Beaverton, OR, posted $10.7 billion in sales while Converse generated $205 million in 2002.
Meanwhile, Nike’s newest pitchman, Kobe Bryant, denies allegations of sexual assault and says he will be cleared. A 19-year-old woman who works as a concierge in a Colorado resort accused Bryant earlier this month.
The signing of Bryant, who has projected a squeaky clean image, was seen as yet another sponsorship coup for Nike on the heels of beating out Reebok and Adidas for number one NBA draft pick LeBron James (PROMO July). Nike refused to reveal details of the agreement but reports say it could include development of a Bryant-branded shoe line.
Bryant paid $8 million last year to get out of a sponsorship deal with Adidas.