ORLANDO, Fla.— The ICAST show floor is buzzing after a Tuesday announcement that Lowrance, Simrad and GoFree parent company Navico is under new ownership. Media, manufacturers and retailers are wondering—what does the buyout mean for Navico’s products? To find out, we reached out to Navico CEO Leif Ottosson to find out.
FTR: Goldman Sachs and Altor Fund IV now own the company that you helm, how does this change the day-to-day operations of brands like Lowrance, Simrad, GoFree and, outside of fishing, B&G.
LO: On a daily basis for our employees, customers, suppliers and partners, this will have no impact for what we do.
FTR: Okay. So if there’s no tangible daily impact, why sell?
LO: In private equity ownership there is a limited ownership period based on the way that these funds are set up. Altor 2003 Fund, that did the first investment in Navico in 2005, closed two years ago and it was overdue with a disinvestment.
FTR: This sounds like a behind-the-scenes, private investment deal, but why did Altor choose to sell part of its ownership to Goldman Sachs?
A: Given Navico’s global business, Altor deemed it beneficial to also bring in a bigger more international private equity partner. There was significant interest from a number of the largest private equity firms.
LO: Altor is not a marine company. They’re an investment firm that makes deals based on numbers. Given that, do these changes mean more financial flexibility for Navico?
A: This new ownership means that Navico will be able to aggressively pursue its agenda for further growth, and it will allow us to continue bringing innovative products to the market. For our partners, it also means expanded opportunities in their dealings with Navico. For the management team and the employees at Navico, this new ownership is the best of two worlds. Altor has been extremely good to work with and will remain as an owner providing continuity and stability. Adding Goldman Sachs, perhaps the world’s most dynamic and iconic financial institution, means that there are several more doors opening up for our company. Goldman has considerable know-how, contacts and resources that can benefit us. This new ownership also of course means that we will have access to new capital to fund our growth.
FTR: Speaking of growth plans, what are the next steps in growth for your brands?
A: On the growth side, Navico has been very clear in its communication over the past few years. We see many opportunities in all parts of our business. This means that we expect to grow in recreational and commercial marine electronics as well as in marine digital services. The recent acquisition by Altor of C-Map, that now will also have the same owners as Navico, provide for many interesting collaborations in the digital space.
LO: Alright, so how long until this deal is finalized?
A: The transaction is expected to close in 3-4 months.
FTR: Thanks for your time.