When Adidas (ADDYY) bought rival Reebok for $3.8 billion in 2006, the German athletic footwear giant had hoped to rejuvenate the once-mighty sportswear brand. However, that did not come to pass. As 2020 turns to 2021, Adidas is looking to sell the brand it acquired nearly 15 years ago, and a contender has stepped up to the table: Percy "Master P" Miller.
For Miller, buying Reebok is all about getting a seat at the table.
"I just feel like Reebok has a lot of equity still in that brand,” Miller said to Yahoo Finance. “If the majority of the ownership is African-American, we could do more with this brand. And also we can give opportunities to other designers.”
Miller has had a distinguished career decades-long that has spanned across music, sports, food, and entertainment. The New Orleans native believes that Black ownership is just what Reebok needs.
“I feel like the brand needed to be made cool again,” he said. “And I think that we have the plan to make this happen."
NPD Vice President and Senior Sports Industry Advisor Matt Powell believes that Miller, who is teaming up with former NBA All-Star Baron Davis to buy Reebok, has a good shot at pulling the deal off.
"This group is a possibility,” Powell said, adding “Reebok has a deep vault of great retro styles. They should focus on that strength."
One of Reebok's most iconic and best-selling sneakers is “the Question.” It was the first signature shoe of NBA Hall of Famer Allen Iverson, who Miller believes must be brought to Reebok's forefront, similar to what Michael Jordan is to Nike (NKE).
The deal would be about more than footwear
Miller tells Yahoo Finance that if the deal ultimately goes through, the impact could go far beyond footwear. He believes it could also unlock the boundless potential that exists in the African-American community.
"Not only Reebok but in so many brands, African-Americans spend more money on tennis shoes, and I feel like it's time to add diversity as ownership in this business,” he said. “But it's also time to be able to take control and show other African-Americans that it's time to open the doors. We are stronger together."
Miller also reminds Yahoo Finance of the scarcity of Black leaders that persists in the C-suite.
“When you look at all the African-American CEOs, just like you said of companies, we only make up one 10th of a percent,” he said. “I want to change that narrative. I feel like we are able to give back to our community and our culture because we know where to put the money back into the community.”
“The more we make, the more we give,” Miller added. “I feel like this is going to give so many opportunities for other African-Americans — all businessmen and women — an opportunity to say, ‘If Master P could do this, we can do it.’"
Miller has experience in the sneaker business
The proposed acquisition to buy Reebok would not be Miller's first entry into the shoe game. The multi-platinum rapper and businessman has his own sneaker line, called MoneYatti, which he would look to incorporate within the Reebok if a deal is made.
"For the MoneYatti brand, it would be massive the way Kanye brought his Yeezy to Adidas,” he said. “And I think that that's what we're missing. These brands are not just about sports … but being able to bring high fashion to brands like that, to accent, to be able to say, ‘We took MoneYatti and brought the right designers, the right team with this, and now we have a fashion brand at the same time.’ So you're touching every area of the business."
Miller also stressed the importance of diversity and inclusion when it comes to American business.
"I think that a lot of these companies are opening up, and we're able to sit down at the table with a lot of these owners and say, bring some diversity in,” he said. “Let's get some African-American owned product on the shelves. You know, this is major for our culture if we're going to turn this around.”
“This is not about a Black thing,” Miller added. “It's about empowering people because it's not going to just be an African-American business, but I'm just saying the majority ownership should be African-American. I think that we could turn this company around."
Reggie Wade is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @ReggieWade.