Tussle over Remington ammunition maker heats up as MNC Capital increases offer

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A takeover battle has intensified over the US ammunition group that owns the Remington brand, as investment firm MNC Capital raised its unsolicited offer in an effort to disrupt a $2bn acquisition by a Czech defence group.

MNC, headquartered in Dallas, on Thursday increased its original offer for Vista Outdoor, a maker of ammunition and outdoor products, from $37.50 to $39.50 per share, valuing the Minnesota-based company at more than $3bn.

Last month Vista had agreed to sell its ammunition business Kinetic to defence company Czechoslovak Group (CSG) for $1.96bn, improving on its agreed offer last October. Vista plans to list its outdoor products business, which includes the binocular and scope maker Bushnell, as a standalone company.

Vista last month rejected an earlier unsolicited offer in March from MNC, for both the ammunition and outdoor businesses, arguing the proposal undervalued its outdoor products business. Vista’s chair Michael Callahan said the MNC bid lacked “evidence of procured committed financing and is not reasonably capable of being completed”.

Privately held CSG is a leading supplier of munitions and military equipment in Ukraine and other countries. The company has recently been playing a key role in a Czech government initiative to send more shells to Kyiv as it fights Russia.

However, the deal has drawn scrutiny from lawmakers in the US over concerns of foreign ownership.

Opponents of the deal, who include former secretary of state Mike Pompeo and US senator JD Vance, have urged the Treasury department to block the sale through the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or Cfius, which is examining the agreement.

They have linked CSG to alleged industrial espionage and ties with the Kremlin, which the Czech company rejects. CSG’s potential dominance of domestic small-arms ammunition production at a time of a global shortage, sparked by the war in Ukraine, has also stoked concerns.

Vista in May said it was confident of securing Cfius clearance and that it still expected the deal to close this year. A shareholder vote on the CSG offer is scheduled for June 14.

Mark Gottfredson, managing director of MNC Capital and a former Vista board member, on Thursday said it was “proud to represent an American alternative”.

“Our proposal provides compelling value and certainty for Vista shareholders and is in the best interests of Vista’s employees and the broader safety and security of the US,” he added.

MNC is leading an investor group that includes banks, private equity groups as well as other family offices, said people familiar with the situation. It plans to fund the deal with about $1.5bn of equity, including roughly $1bn from the family offices and the remainder with private credit and bank financing.

MNC has turned to family offices because of sensitivities that other institutional investors have around gun manufacturing investments, the people said

CSG is a family-owned business with revenues of €1.7bn. Founded in 1995, it started in scrap metals from surplus military stock in the 1990s. Over the past few years, it has been actively seeking deals, with acquisitions including Italian and Spanish ammunitions companies.

The Czech company owns 70 per cent of Fiocchi Munizioni, an Italian small arms producer with manufacturing in the US. The deal was approved by Cfius in 2022 but the review process took several months, in part because of delays stemming from the war in Ukraine.

Shares in Vista Outdoor were up 3 per cent in mid-afternoon trading.

MNC declined to comment beyond its statement announcing its higher offer. Vista was not immediately available for comment while CSG declined to comment.

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