Bernard Hinault is involved in a rescue bid for troubled cycling business Mavic, which entered receivership last month, and is set to play a role as ambassador to the brand should the offer prove successful.
L’Equipe reports that the five-time Tour de France winner has aligned himself with a bid prepared by Paris-based lawyer Didier Poulmaire and Ronan Le Moal, who recently stepped down as managing director of the financial services group Crédit Mutuel-Arkéa, sponsor of the UCI Professional Continental team, Arkéa-Samsic.
A deadline of 2 June had been set by the commercial court in Grenoble for receipt of offers for the wheels and components business, with 14 expressions of interest reportedly registered, and the deadline has now been pushed back to 19 June.
Hinault said that he was “very happy to come and support a French project to rescue Mavic, a brand that has accompanied me throughout my career and which is inseparable from cycling.”
The brand has provided neutral service for the Tour de France for four decades now, its yellow support vehicles a familiar sight on that race as well as others organised by ASO.
“As a technical partner, Mavic has always been at the service of runners in difficulty on the roads of France,” Hinault said.
“It's my turn to put myself at the service of the men and women of Mavic at a time when their business is in difficulty. It is a fair exchange.”
Poulmaire said that talks were well advanced, and that in the event of the bid being successful, Hinault would “be an ambassador of choice for the brand,” including reinvigorating its sales network, which now operates on a direct-to-retail model rather than through distributors.
He added that Hinault, who besides those five yellow jerseys he took from 1978-85 also won the world championships in 1980 and was victorious in four of cycling’s five Monuments, would help develop some product ranges, above all relating to e-bikes.
Mavic was sold last year by its former owner, Finland-based sporting goods conglomerate Amer Sports, to Los Angeles-based private equity firm, Regent LP. Its legal owner is Delaware-based company M Sports, set up by Regent LP to handle the transaction.
Sales at the company, which employs around 200 people in France and around 50 more abroad, have fallen sharply in the past few years, while rising losses have led to Mavic having difficulties servicing its debts.
In December, the Annecy-based business entered a process called conciliation, an early stage under French corporate bankruptcy law, followed in February by its management being entrusted to By Saving, a French turnaround specialist.
Last month, Mavic entered redressement judiciaire, a process in which a court appoints a receiver who works with management to maximise returns to creditors.
That process could include a sale of the business, but if no suitable buyer were found, liquidation is also a possibility.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.