Adidas Group could be an investment target for London-based private equity firm Apax Partners, reports suggest today (18 April), with the move possibly preceding a full scale bid for the company.

Apax is reportedly lining up a 25% stake in the German sports goods group - just a year after its US$3.8bn merger with Reebok.

Apax neither confirmed nor denied the link when contacted by just-style today (18 April), instead opting for a "no comment".

"There is nothing we can say at the moment," an Apax Partners spokesperson told just-style.

However, the company showed its buying power last year through the US$1.6bn acquisition of Tommy Hilfiger Corporation. "We do have quite some experience in this sort of area," the spokesperson added.

Adidas was not available for comment. Having climbed in early morning trading on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, the company's shares have taken a dip from around EUR45 at the start of trading to EUR44.

Apax could offer EUR50 per share for German brand, according to a report in the Financial Times.

Last month, Sports Direct International founder Mike Ashley bought a 3.14% stake in Adidas in the same week that financial group AMVESCAP increased its holding in the group to 5.087%.

Neither bid was considered by analysts to hint at a takeover approach for Adidas, which is thought to be worth more than US$8bn.