For the Record: Brunswick to sell Hatteras and Cabo

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Brunswick Corp. said in early January that its board of directors authorized the company to seek a buyer for its Hatteras and Cabo brands.

“This action reflects our decision to exit the sportfishing convertible category and to concentrate our resources in the yacht segment on our remaining brands, Sea Ray and Meridian Yachts,” Brunswick CEO Dustan McCoy said in a statement.

“When completed, this action will also contribute to our goal of a break-even or better boat segment in 2013, even if the larger sterndrive/inboard fiberglass markets do not improve,” he said.

“The current plan assumes that the eventual purchaser will retain both the physical plant and the talented workforce of Hatteras/Cabo,” McCoy said.

Despite that announcement, the Sun Journal in New Bern, N.C., where both companies are based, reported that Hatteras was laying off 105 workers.

In emails to the Sun Journal, Dan Kubera, a spokesman for Brunswick, said the layoffs announced Jan. 3 were necessary to better adjust to the market conditions. He also told the newspaper that the layoffs were “unrelated and separate” to the decision by Brunswick’s board to seek a buyer for Hatteras and Cabo.

“During the sale process, which we seek to complete in an expeditious manner, Hatteras and Cabo will maintain ongoing operations and we will keep our employees and dealer network informed of our progress,” McCoy said.

67_livingston_01Grand Banks CEO decides to step down

In the most recent move signaling shifting times at Grand Banks Yachts, CEO Robert William Livingston II decided not to renew his contract.

Livingston’s decision was effective in the first week of January. The company said chief financial officer and board member Peter Poli will serve as interim CEO until a replacement is found.

Livingston took the helm in May 2009, succeeding his father, who is still the largest shareholder of Grand Banks Yachts Ltd. through Merlion LP, according to company documents. The younger Livingston held 217,000 issued ordinary shares of Grand Banks Yachts Ltd. as of Oct. 19, documents show.

His father held the top post for 35 years and served as chairman of the board for the company, which is traded on the Singapore Stock Exchange.

The boatbuilder has appeared to be in flux for the past two years.

“Yes, we’ve seen a fair number of issues come across the transom in the past couple years,” Grand Banks brand and marketing director David Hensel told Trade Only. “But that’s not unusual for any business making its way through the kind of tough times our industry has seen. It’s all just a bit more visible when you’re a publicly traded company. What matters is how we manage it and, at the end of the day, the results speak for themselves: big new investments, increased shareholder confidence and solid gains in price per share as our revenues and profitability continue to grow.”

Grand Banks made a placement of 19.2 million shares of stock Sept. 17, which were bought by two investors — Exa Ltd. and Koh Cheng Keong — to raise money to “contribute to the growth and expansion of the company,” according to Grand Banks.

In September, Cheng Lim Kong, known in the media as Peter Cheng, bought about 10 percent of the company’s shares at 10 cents apiece from Wassbourne Finance, according to company documents.

In October, Grand Banks’ board beat back a challenge by dissident shareholders to replace all four incumbent directors in a so-called “extraordinary general meeting” under the rules of the Singapore Stock Exchange.

It was never clear exactly what the dissident shareholders wanted other than to “run the company in a better, more profitable way” and “to cut costs,” Hensel told Trade Only at the time.

“Although Cheng’s move to buy a sizable interest in the company and install his own board was unexpected and unforeseen, it isn’t a complete surprise, given our financial position at the time,” Hensel told Trade Only in an email Jan. 3. “Grand Banks had around $22 million in cash on hand and no debt whatsoever, but our share price hadn’t yet risen to reflect growing sales gains. Market value then was just $23.5 million on the Singapore Stock Exchange. So it’s not surprising that someone might seek to come in and take control of all that cash — plus the GB brand, our factory and many other assets. Other investors also thought we were undervalued and began buying up shares, too.”

Group raises money for storm-damaged firms

Since Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast, help has been directed at easing suffering for those who lost homes, belongings and power for weeks.

Now a coalition is raising money for the many marine dealers and boatyards that were devastated in an effort to help an industry that was battered by the storm. The Marine Trades Association of New Jersey formed a Hurricane Recovery and Relief Fund to help marine dealers and boatyards affected by Sandy.

Bob Staehle, vice president of new business development for Brunswick parts and accessories companies Land N Sea, Kellogg Marine and Diversified Marine, helped spearhead the endeavor. More than 200 people attended the annual Marine Trades of New Jersey Christmas Party Dec. 13 in Spring Lake Heights, N.J., where the trade group announced the fund.

Staehle presented a $25,000 check, which came from his Hurricane Relief Fund raised at the Kellogg dealer trade show in November at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Conn. He also raised a little more than $10,000 in contributions from vendors, reps, trade associations, dealers and employees, which was matched by Brunswick Corp., Mercury Marine, Brunswick Boat Group and Kellogg/Land N Sea for a total of $50,000 for the effort.

The second $25,000 will be going to the Hudson Valley Marine Trades Association for its hurricane relief fund.

Anyone interested in donating to relief funds that will go directly to marine dealers and boatyards is asked to send to: Marine Trades Association of New Jersey Recovery & Relief Fund, 2516 Highway 35, Suite 201, Manasquan, NJ 08736

This article originally appeared in the February 2013 issue.

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