Invus, the US private equity fund to previously back Weightwatchers, is leading the race to buy premium cycling brand Rapha.
The London-based cycle clothing firm has attracted significant attention from a number of suitors, with a price tag understood to be around £200m.
After buyout firms Advent and TPG withdrew from the process, interested parties were whittled down to the final two players. Sky News revealed earlier today Invus and Investindustrial – one of the largest shareholders in Aston Martin – were ready to duke it out for Rapha.
However, reports later this evening indicated Invus has edged out the Italian firm.
Interest in cycling has surged since the 2012 Olympics in London and Britain's recent success at the Tour de France. Five out of the last six editions of the three-week race around France have been won by Britons.
Rapha has a long tail of investors, which it is understood has stymied equity investment. Sources said just £5m of equity has been injected in the firm with expansion dependent on cash flow generation.
Some buyers have been scared off by the £200m price tag, as it represents around 20 times Rapha's annual profits, annual sales are £63m.