Cerberus Partners Could Buy Gunmaker From Firm

Apr 17 2013 | 12:44pm ET

Cerberus Capital Management's partners may think that being in the gun business is bad P.R., but they apparently also think it's still a good business.

The private equity firm put its Freedom Group up for sale last year in the wake of the shooting at a Connecticut elementary school that killed 20 children and six adults. A Freedom Group-made gun was used in the massacre.

At the time, Cerberus said it was selling the gunmaker to "avoid being drawn into the national debate" on gun control in the wake of the killings. Now, however, founder Stephen Feinberg and several other Cerberus partners are putting together a bid for the company themselves.

Feinberg and the other Cerberus partners would hold only a minority stake in Freedom, and are seeking out other wealthy people to form a bidding group. The Cerberus partners would use their own money to make the offer.

Feinberg and his cohorts fear that the circumstances surrounding Cerberus' Freedom sale could lead to lowball bids at auction. Their own bid is designed to counter that, and their bidding group would withdraw from the auction if any other would-be buyer offers 10% or more over the Feinberg-led bid. There would also be no break-up fee, and the partners involved would recuse themselves from the decision-making process, with a special committee of investors working with Cerberus' board to review bids.

Freedom is expected to go for about $1 billion. About 16 potential bidders have reviewed the company's financial information.

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