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UPDATE 2-KKR buys Sparta, Raleigh bike maker Accell for $1.77 bln

(Updates with quote from CEO, recent bike deals)

By Toby Sterling

AMSTERDAM, Jan 24 (Reuters) - A consortium led by buyout firm KKR has agreed a takeover of Accell Group that values the maker of bicycle brands such as Sparta, Batavus and Raleigh at 1.56 billion euros ($1.77 billion), they said Monday.

The deal is the latest sign of rising investor interest in the e-bike industry, after Dutch bike firm Van Moof raised $128 million https://www.reuters.com/business/autos-transportation/dutch-e-bike-maker-van-moof-raises-128-million-expand-2021-09-01 from Hillhouse Capital last year to fund its U.S. expansion, and Cerberus Capital Management made an unsuccessful bid for Canada's Dorel Industries.

The cash offer of 58 euros per share in cash represents a premium of 26% over Accell's closing price on Jan. 21 and a premium of 42% over its three-month volume-weighted average price, the statement said.

"The Consortium is committed to further developing the Netherlands as the global capital of cycling by building on the company’s leading position in the European e-bike market and continuing to grow its strong heritage brands," KKR partner Daan Knottenbelt said in a statement.

The offer is due to launch in the second quarter after approvals, and to close in the third quarter.

Accell chairman Rob ter Haar said in a statement the board unanimously supports the deal as offering "compelling and immediate value for shareholders" and that it would help the company strategically as well.

The bike industry was one of the winners from the coronavirus pandemic, with Accell reporting a 17% rise in sales in 2020 to 1.3 billion euros, and strong growth in e-bike sales as an alternative to public transport.

In December Accell said 2021 sales through November were up 4.4% despite "headwinds from global component shortages".

Accell Chief Executive Ton Aanbeek, who will remain in his job, said he believed KKR would likely not be looking for a turnaround or quick exit from Accell.

Biking "is the future... and the solution to many societal and city problems as well", he said.

The group's two largest shareholders, Teslin and Hoogh Blarick, which hold 10.8% and 7.5% of shares respectively, said they would support the transaction.

Accell rejected a 2017 buyout offer at 33 euros a share from Pon Holdings, which owns the Gazelle, Santa Cruz and Urban Arrow brands.

Pon ultimately instead bought Dorel Industries for $810 million in October 2021, more than twice what Cerebrus had offered, taking over the Schwinn, Cannondale and Mongoose brands.

European venture capitalists poured $165 million into e-bikes in 2019 and 2020, more than the previous four years combined, according to data from PitchBook.

($1 = 0.8834 euros) (Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Jason Neely, Keith Weir and Jan Harvey)