NFL-Backed New Era Cap Secures $600 Million Term Loan Amid IPO Speculation

For over a century, New Era Cap has reined as one of the most recognizable names in hatmaking.

(Bloomberg) — For over a century, New Era Cap has reined as one of the most recognizable names in hatmaking. 

While best-known as an official headwear licensing partner for Major League Baseball and the National Football League, the Buffalo, New York-based company’s cachet has also been boosted by luxury collaborations with the likes of Yves Saint Laurent and Fear of God.

Led by Christopher H. Koch, a fourth-generation chief executive officer of the family-owned business, New Era has just completed an oversubscribed refinancing administered by Bank of America Corp. and co-lead by JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and Truist Financial Corp. The overall debt package is $775 million, comprising a $525 million term loan and $250 million revolver. 

“The commitments that we received relative to our debt package exceeded by over 40%,” Kevin Wilson, chief financial officer at New Era, said in a phone interview. “So we’re pleased that people have the confidence in New Era and liked what they saw from a financial profile to invest in us.”

The loan’s issuance is the latest sign that banks are ready to lend to select companies primed for growth as mergers have slowed significantly this year. 

Koch, following in the footsteps of his father David Koch, has been with the company for over 40 years working in different capacities before taking on the top job in 2002. New Era’s refinancing now offers added liquidity flexibility, he said. 

Having grown the company to generate more than $1 billion in revenue in 2022, there’s been speculation New Era could soon file for an initial public offering. Koch declined to comment on specific IPO plans, stressing that no decision has been made. 

“I’ve got a lot of gas in the tank,” Koch said, when asked about the company’s future path. “I can see myself leading a publicly-traded company,” he added.

The MLB, NFL and National Basketball Association became minority owners in New Era as part of a deal last year with existing backer ACON Investments, according to a statement at the time. 

New Era Cap designs, markets and distributes more than 200 million pieces of apparel and headware annually, that statement showed. 

(Updates with additional details in final paragraph. An earlier version of this report corrected the size of the financing in the headline and third paragraph.)

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