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Private equity firm leads purchase of Bennington Marine

The Bennington Marine management team partnered with Balmoral Advisors LLC to purchase the assets of the company, company president and CEO Steve Vogel said in a letter sent this week to "valued customers."

"Our new company is debt-free and is committed to continue providing you with the highest quality products and services you have come to expect from the Bennington brand," Vogel wrote. "During this process, we learned a great deal to help us become a more focused company."

Summit Partners was the previous owner of the Elkhart, Ind.-based pontoon manufacturer.

According to its Web site, Los Angeles-based Balmoral is a private equity firm that invests in "recapitization, special situations and acquisitions of small and middle-market companies."

It target companies that are typically "(1) experiencing financial distress; (2) undergoing or in need of an operational turnaround; and/or (3) misunderstood or undervalued by their markets or stakeholders."

On its Web site, Balmoral says the acquisition took place in December under a UCC Article 9 transaction.

In his letter, Vogel notes the company's relationship with GE and Bank of America is strong following these changes.

"I know that many of you are using local banks and I encourage you to contact your sales manager to see how we might help you with your financing efforts," he wrote. "I look for great things for all of us this year and for many years to come."

The letter also discussed Bennington's winning a JD Power award in 2009, as well as a CSI award. Bennington, Vogel said, has gained market share.

"The good news is that nearly all indicators show that the bottom of the market appeared to occur sometime late last summer," he wrote. "We are entering the 2010 model year with major product styling changes, and this approach will help you retain a competitive edge throughout the season."

— Beth Rosenberg

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