Rumors about whether Indiana-based Nautic Global Group and its eight boat brands are being sold are being put to rest as the company, once again with Jim Malone at the helm, issued a call for bidders.
“There have been an enormous amount of rumors,” Malone told Trade Only Today. “In order to bring finality to when this journey is going to be over, we decided to put a process in place and level the playing field for everybody, for an ownership group that would take this great opportunity to move the company forward. We decided the best way to do that was to be very open about it. We’ve been very open with our employees and our vendors.”
The company expects to be able to announce the new owner or ownership group by Sept. 23.
Nautic Global Group hired Raymond James to initiate a sale process and received an “outstanding offer” from a public company that later fell through, Malone said.
“Whether we’re selling the company as a whole or as different brands remains to be seen,” Malone said. “The easiest thing would be for the company as a whole to be sold, but the bigger issue is going to be what is the best way to do it for the company, the brands, the current owners and the new owners. That’s what the process is designed to do so people can focus on the pontoon industry or the deckboat industry or the cruiser industry or aluminum fishing industry. Or they can focus on all of it. It seemed we needed to open up the process.”
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 company has experienced some flux in recent years, with three presidents — Malone is serving his second stint as CEO. 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.
“I think Brad had an enormous impact on business, and a good impact,” Malone said. “Through that I stayed as chairman of the board, [but] I was not here on daily basis.”
After the company made its announcement to sell, Gates pursued other opportunities, Malone said.
“The ownership really just feels strongly that it’s in far better hands if they go with the company that’s going to be dedicated to and focused on the marine industry,” Malone said.
The company, 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.
“This has been a lengthy process that started in April of this year,” Malone said in a statement. “Although we had hoped for a quicker resolution, we are confident that we are coming to the end of the process. I feel strongly the brands associated with NGG will be a great platform for the right owner.”
The process Malone outlined includes the submission of final bids from all interested parties by Sept. 17. The offers will be evaluated at the company’s corporate office in Elkhart, Ind., on Sept. 21, when the best combination of offers will be determined.