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Icebreaker Case Study

Helping Icebreaker realise global potential.

‘With a company like Icebreaker, an auction process creates a powerful competitive dynamic.’     

David Watt, Managing Director, Investment Banking, Jarden


In 2016 as the US market for consumer retail assets strengthened, Jarden’s investment banking team  saw that it was timely to connect Icebreaker’s private equity shareholders, Pencarrow Private Equity, with colleagues in the consumer and apparel team at Credit Suisse in New York.   

‘We keep an eye on opportunities for our clients as a matter of course, and we could see that there were strong prospects for Icebreaker to consider partners to help      achieve its growth ambitions,’ says David Watt, Managing Director, Investment Banking. ‘The next time our clients travelled to the US with Icebreaker management, we took the opportunity to introduce them to our colleague Carrie Barber, who leads the global luxury apparel team at Credit Suisse New York, and her team.’

Jarden has a formal strategic alliance with the Credit Suisse, providing clients with enhanced access to global investment opportunities, expertise and connections.

‘Carrie has strong relationships with many leading global apparel companies’, says David. ‘Meeting with Carrie contributed to Pencarrow Private Equity’s decision, alongside other shareholders, to begin exploring capital raising opportunities in the US market.’

After deciding to proceed with a strategic review of the business, Icebreaker’s shareholders – including Pencarrow Private Equity – invited Jarden to Los Angeles (a middle ground where bankers from NZ and NYC can converge) to pitch to run the capital raising process. Jarden and Credit Suisse were appointed to jointly manage the process.

The team worked closely with Icebreaker’s senior management to prepare the company for the strategic review process and produce marketing materials.  While the work was underway, Icebreaker’s CEO Rob Fyfe stepped down and moved to the role of chairman. ‘Rob had introduced important disciplines around working capital, supply chain logistics and management of costs, so while overall the company was in good shape, the timing of his departure was not ideal’ says David. ‘Fortunately the new CEO, Greg Smith, stepped into Rob’s shoes seamlessly and spearheaded the marketing campaign.’ 

Icebreaker’s shareholders were keen to ensure the company had the right investment partner, specifically a party who would realise the global potential of both the brand and the product. ‘We worked closely with the team at Credit Suisse to identify suitable parties, introduce them to the company and inspire them with the vision of what they could achieve for their own customers with Icebreaker as part of their brand portfolio.’

A competitive auction process was held, with parties asked for indicative bids, followed by an eight-week period of due diligence, including management presentations. ‘With a company like Icebreaker, an auction creates a powerful competitive dynamic,’ says David. ‘Parties know that other potential investors are also doing the work, and are motivated to put forward a strong final bid.’

Icebreaker was sold to VF Corporation in November 2017 for NZ$288 million, with a commitment from VF to keep the company’s headquarters in New Zealand.

‘We thoroughly enjoyed working with Carrie and her team to deliver a fantastic result for Icebreaker’s shareholders, through Jarden’s strategic alliance with Credit Suisse,’ says David.


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