Last week was somewhat consumed with the vote on Manchin-Toomey and the Boston Marathon bombings. The Wall Street Journal ran a couple of stories about the sale of the Freedom Group by Cerberus. You may remember that Cerberus put the Freedom Group up for sale in December after the Newtown shootings in response to pressure from some major pension funds who were investors.
In the first story dated April 16th, the Journal reports that a bid group is being formed by Stephen Feinberg and other partners in Cerberus. The rationale behind this is to provide a floor in the auction price for Freedom Group in order to prevent lowball offers.
Mr. Feinberg, Cerberus’s co-founder and chief executive, and other partners, using their own money, are looking to team up with other investors to place a bid for Freedom Group, the people said. The Cerberus partners would have a minority financial position in the group, according to the people. The partners are reaching out to other wealthy individuals and families to join the bid, the people said.
Cerberus would then form a special committee of investors of the private-equity firm who, along with the Cerberus board, would evaluate any bids. The bidding partners wouldn’t be part of that review process. The Cerberus group would withdraw from the bidding if a suitor tops its offer by 10% or more, the people said. The group wouldn’t receive a breakup fee.
That story also reports that 16 potential bidders have looked at the Freedom Group’s financials. The auction is being run by investment bank Lazard Ltd.
A follow-up story in the Wall Street Journal revealed some of the potential bidders for the Freedom Group who have examined the company’s financial information.
Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. and Sturm, Ruger & Co. have asked for detailed information on Freedom Group, the people said. Alliant Techsystems Inc., an aerospace and defense company that also makes ammunition and firearms accessories, has also expressed interest, they said.
While both Ruger and S&W are firearms manufacturers, this would mark the first move into firearms manufacturing for Alliant Techsystems. ATK currently makes Federal and Estate ammunition along with Alliant powder and a whole host of components such as Speer and CCI. While not mentioned, I think it would be conceivable that FN-Herstal which manufactures both Winchester and Browning sporting arms might be interested as well.
UPDATE: Frank W. James has a very perceptive comment over at SayUncle regarding the interest shown by Ruger, ATK, and S&W in the Freedom Group. In essence, they are using the opportunity to examine Freedom Group’s books not to buy the company but to compare their costs to those of Freedom Group. In other words, they are getting competitive intelligence for free.