As we reported last November, Wind Point Partners, the American investment fund that helped Joe Messmer to take over Bushnell in 1999, accompanying its steady expansion since then through organic growth and acquisitions, has been looking for new investors to take over its controlling stake in the company, now called Bushnell Outdoor Products.
More than 20 companies have expressed interest in Bushnell and its 11 brands, including Bollé, Serengeti or Tasco. The final choice has fallen on MidOcean partners, a private equity firm with offices in New York and London, which has signed a definitive agreement to buy the company. Bushnell’s senior management team will continue to hold a significant ownership stake whose exact size is still under negotiation, but it will probably be higher than before once the deal is closed toward the end of this month.
MidOcean has approved an ambitious business plan that calls for a doubling in the Bushnell group’s revenues over the next five years. It is reportedly paying almost $600 million for the company, whose sales have been growing at an average annual rate of more than 10 percent lately. Sales reached about $350 million in 2006, compared with $150 million at the time of the 1999 buyout, and they are expected to grow to about $400 million this year.
Future growth will continue to be organic and external, but no major deals appear to be in the pipeline right now. Targeting mainly outdoor enthusiasts, Bushnell plans to develop new products and to leverage its existing technologies to enter new markets (more in EyeWear Intelligence).