Backers of companies including Spotify, the music-streaming service, and the furniture retailer DFS are vying to get into the saddle with Rapha, the upmarket maker of cycling gear.
Sky News understands that TPG and Advent International, the private equity groups, are among the bidders for Rapha, a popular brand among serious amateur riders.
Initial bids were tabled for the privately owned business last month, and some of the offers are said to have valued it at close to £150m.
Rapha, which is being advised by the investment bank William Blair, is said to be keen on a sale to a deep-pocketed investor such as Advent or TPG.
The move comes on the back of soaring revenues at the business, which is partly owned by Active Private Equity, an investment firm.
A sale would enable Rapha’s shareholders to cash in on fast-growing interest in cycling, both in the UK and internationally, despite persistent questions over the sport’s governance at a professional level.
News of Advent and TPG’s interest comes during the initial stages of this year’s Tour de France.
Road cycling is now estimated to be a $47bn-a-year global market, making it the largest sports category in the world.
Rapha was founded in 2004 by Simon Mottram, a branding consultant who disliked the garish polyester outfits which dominated the cycle-wear market.
Mr Mottram subsequently sold a stake in the business to Active, which has also acquired shareholdings in companies including Honest Burger, Soho House and Leon, the healthy fast food chain.
Revenues in the year to January were £63m, up 30% on the previous 12 months, and sales are said to be 40% higher so far this year.
Much of that growth was driven by Rapha’s growing international customer base, with the brand now present in retail locations in more than a dozen cities from Chicago to Seoul.
Among Rapha’s partnerships was a four-year deal to supply Team Sky, the professional cycling team backed by Sky plc, the owner of Sky News.
That deal ended last year.
According to the company, it employed more than 350 people at the end of 2016, and has an international cycling club with more than 9,000 members, each of whom pays an annual £135 fee.
Both Advent and Rapha declined to comment, while TPG could not be reached for comment.
Source: SKY News