Bennington Marine closes deal for Nautic Global Group - Trade Only Today

Bennington Marine closes deal for Nautic Global Group

Bennington Marine announced today that it completed the acquisition of the brands and “certain assets” of Nautic Global Group LLC.
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Pontoon manufacturer Bennington Marine announced today that it completed the acquisition of the brands and “certain assets” of Nautic Global Group LLC and is assuring dealers and customers that all of the brands will continue to function independently.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The brands Bennington acquired — Godfrey pontoon boats (which includes Aqua Patio, Sanpan and Sweetwater), Hurricane deckboats, Polar Kraft fishing boats and Rinker cruisers — are being held in a newly formed holding company and will be operated separately from Bennington.

The acquisition will not impact existing operations, dealer networks or retail customer relationships for either Bennington or the acquired brands.

“We are excited to bring together some of the strongest brands in the marine industry," Jacob Vogel, CEO at Bennington Marine, said in a statement. "And we want to assure dealers and their customers that it is business as usual. Production, servicing and marketing of these terrific brands will continue to remain separate and strong."

Elkhart, Ind.-based Bennington said in late September that it was buying Nautic Global Group, also based in Elkhart, and its brands, which include four pontoon lines under the Godfrey umbrella.

Bennington founder Steve Vogel said at the time that the acquisition would give dealers an opportunity to expand their product offerings.

“Current dealers of either or both brands will have opportunities to expand their representation, and the companies announced that the intention is to distribute dealer-specific news and meetings scheduled shortly after the closing of the transaction, which is anticipated to be Oct. 2,” CEO Jacob Vogel said in a statement. “At this time we are planning on operating these acquired brands and businesses as an organization separate from Bennington, but with the same world-class attention to quality and customer service.”

Nautic Global, the sixth-largest U.S. boat manufacturer, has as much as half of the deckboat market share with its Hurricane brand. The company’s pontoon brands include Godfrey Pontoons, Sanpan, Aqua Patio and Sweetwater. It also builds Rinker Express Cruisers, Captiva Sport Boats and Polar Kraft aluminum fishing boats.

In late August, Nautic Global Group CEO Jim Malone told Trade Only Today that the group was up for sale and that the company expected to announce a new owner or owners by Sept. 23. At the time, Malone didn’t know whether the company would be sold as a whole or by brand.

The company has been owned by private equity firms Silver Point Capital and Oaktree Capital for nearly a decade, Malone said — a long time by private equity standards. It was formed in 2005 when Godfrey Marine and the Rinker Boat Co. merged.

The group has experienced some flux in recent years, with three presidents — Malone was serving his second stint as CEO at the time of the sale. Technically, Malone had been serving as interim CEO, but that technicality went unannounced to the industry press. Former CEO Brad Gates decided to part ways when the sale was announced internally, Malone said.

“The entire Elkhart-area community will benefit from the acquisition of these great boat brands, as this represents a big win for the employees, dealers and customer end users,” Malone said in the statement announcing that Bennington would purchase the group. “We’re pleased that the company is being acquired by one of the most highly regarded companies in the boating industry.”

“This represents an exciting opportunity for both companies,” Jacob Vogel said. “By putting some of the strongest brands in the marine industry together in one corporate family we will be able to better provide dealers and consumers with the highest-quality, most innovative products and back them with the best services and warranties in the industry. This is truly a historic transaction in the boating industry.”

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