One of the repercussions of the shootings in Newtown was the announcement by Cerebus Capital Management that it was going to “immediately” start the process of selling off its investment in Freedom Group. Freedom Group, in case you didn’t know, is the company that owns firearms makers Remington, Bushmaster, DPMS, Marlin, H&R, Para, Dakota Arms and The Parker Gun, as well as Barnes Bullets, Advanced Armament Corp. and other firms in the outdoor industry.
These holdings represent a small part of the assets of Cerebus, which has over $20 billion under its management. To put that in context, the net sales of the Freedom Group companies for the first nine months of 2012 was $677.3 million.
According to a report on the Wall Street Journal’s web site, Cerebus is looking for a single buyer to purchase Freedom Group, though it will be a significant challenge to find a single entity with the assets, or interest, to take over the entire portfolio of companies. I’ve heard the same thing in off-the-record conversations with Remington executives, who said that Cerebus doesn’t want to split up the brands.
The prospect of the companies being sold off piecemeal could spell big trouble for some of the brands, particularly Marlin and H&R, which have already struggled since production of these guns was moved from North Haven, Connecticut to the Remington facility in Illion, New York.
Cerebus made it clear in no uncertain terms that the shootings and the shifting political landscape prompted this decision. In a statement on the Cerebus web site the company said:
There are, however, actions that we as a firm can take. Accordingly, we have determined to immediately engage in a formal process to sell our investment in Freedom Group. We will retain a financial advisor to design and execute a process to sell our interests in Freedom Group, and we will then return that capital to our investors. We believe that this decision allows us to meet our obligations to the investors whose interests we are entrusted to protect without being drawn into the national debate that is more properly pursued by those with the formal charter and public responsibility to do so._
Even though Cerebus said it is starting this process right away, it doesn’t mean that Freedom Group is going to be sold quickly. “We might still be here in six months or even a year,” one Remington executive, who was not authorized to speak on the record, said. “I don’t think they want to break us up, that’s the understanding we’ve had. But they didn’t want to get sucked into the national debate. They’re not going to lose billions over millions.”
We’ll keep a close eye on this process as it unfolds and provide updates as new information comes to light.