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Do you know what the deal is with Prince? Last year, I read they went bankrupt, but then reorganized and got back into business. Are they releasing any new racquets? I see players on tour (e.g., Bob and Mike Bryan, David Ferrer) still using Prince frames. So if they’re going to continue paying those players, they must be planning to come out with something new, right?—Adam M.
You’re right, Adam, that Prince is still in business. As I wrote last fall, following on a report by the Wall Street Journal, in May 2012 Prince declared bankruptcy, having decided to relinquish its intellectual-property rights to Authentic Brands Group in return for debt forgiveness. As far as I know, this deal still stands; A.B.G. still owns Prince USA’s rights; Prince USA is still a licensee of A.B.G., with all the accompanying legal ramifications.
In that post, I also reported that Prince was continuing to develop a new racquet technology, to be released in the beginning of 2013. However, since that piece appeared on TENNIS.com, the company has amended its release schedule. According to a source at Prince, the new technology is now set to roll out at the beginning of next year. Additionally, Prince is planning to launch a slew of new products this upcoming fall to coincide with the U.S. Open.
While I’m not able to speak in detail about what Prince has in store for us, I can say that, from what I’ve learned, the new technology strikes me as a novel contribution to the industry, one that goes beyond the current norm (a minor material or grommet tweak, for example). It’s something to look forward to.
So don’t write Prince off just yet, Adam. They haven’t given up on the tennis space; they’re simply taking the time to regroup.