Unknown Money Men of the Gun Business

posted on September 6, 2011
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Who are the Wall Street money men investing in the gun business? The Insider is more than casually curious about three private equity investment firms that have taken significant positions in the shooting industry. Frustrating this inquisitiveness is the operative word in “private equity company,” that word being “private.” There is precious little public information about what’s going on—and the principles aren’t talking.

The most widely discussed is the Freedom Group Inc., a subsidiary of private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management. Freedom Group Inc. describes itself thusly:

“We are the world's leading innovator, designer, manufacturer and marketer of firearms, ammunition and related products for the hunting, shooting sports, law enforcement and military markets. As one of the largest manufacturers in the world of firearms and ammunition, we have some of the most globally recognized brands including Remington, Bushmaster Firearms, DPMS/Panther Arms, Marlin, H&R, The Parker Gun, EOTAC, Mountain Khakis, Advanced Armament Corp., Dakota Arms and Barnes Bullets.”

A second private equity group with a far lower profile in the industry is MidOcean Partners, which owns Bushnell. Bushnell is perceived by most to be a value-oriented brand of sports optics, but that’s a gross underestimate of this behemoth’s actual stature. Bushnell has acquired a slew of companies such as Tasco, Serengeti, Bollé, Uncle Mike's Law Enforcement, Stoney Point, Hoppe's, Butler Creek, Cébé, Uncle Mike's, Final Approach, Simmons and Millett. Bushnell just added another company to its portfolio, Night Optics USA.

Who is MidOcean Partners? They say this about themselves:

“MidOcean Partners is a private investment firm that specializes in muddle market investments in the U.S. and Europe. MidOcean targets control investments with minimum equity contribution of $25 million. The firm’s seasoned investment team is supported by an experienced executive board and its management affiliates, allowing MidOcean to be an active investor in four target sectors: Business & Financial Services, Consumer & Leisure, Media & Communications and Niche Industrials.”

In case you’re wondering, MidOcean considers Bushnell to be a “consumer and leisure” investment.

The third private equity player in the gun business is Sciens Capital Management. Colt’s Mfg. Co., Colt Defense LLC and New Colt Holdings Corp. are “…controlled largely by certain principals from Sciens Capital Management,” according to a public filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC).

Who is Sciens Capital Management? Sciens cryptically describes themselves in the most broad terms possible:

“Sciens Capital Management manages assets in private equity, venture capital, aviation, real estate, structured finance and [a] fund of hedge funds. Sciens' investors include financial institutions, pension funds, private banks, foundations, endowments, family offices and high net worth individuals. The Sciens Funds are managed by seasoned professionals skilled in all aspects of investment management, risk management, financial controls and client service."

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