Report: Winnebago’s Suitor Labeled ‘Not Real’
North Street Capital, the private equity firm that offered to buy Forest City, Iowa-based Winnebago Industries Inc. last week, is less than a year old and is “not real,” according to the chief of Spyker Cars, which North Street Capital tried and failed to buy in 2011.
The Des Moines Register reported that Spyker, a boutique Dutch carmaker and former owner of Swedish automaker Saab, announced it would be sold to North Street Capital in September for $43 million, but the deal never materialized. Saab went bankrupt in December.
Emerging from this background of luxury sports cars and business deals across three continents, North Street’s managing partner, Alex Mascioli, and lawyers started writing letters to officials at Winnebago, the iconic but recession-weakened 54-year-old RV maker.
Mascioli said Wednesday (May 16) that his firm is real. It intends to buy Winnebago for $321 million in borrowed money and start building foreign cars and trucks at the RV company’s factories, he said. He says he has lined up financing and agreements with foreign manufacturers.
Winnebago is not convinced. The company said last week that it had received Mascioli’s offer of $11 per share, but the board decided “it has not received sufficient information to deem the offer as credible.” Mascioli said his lawyer wrote Monday to ask what information Winnebago needs, but he hasn’t received a response.
According to the Des Moines Register, one obstacle for Winnebago may be the failure of the Spyker deal and the hard feelings it left behind.
“North Street Capital was not real,” Spyker CEO Victor Muller told a blog called “Phoenix — A Future for Saab” in March. “This means they pretended to make a deal, but in fact they could not at all (do) that. They could not provide credible evidence of assets.”
Reached by email Monday, Muller stood by the quote. The Register asked by follow-up email if the quote should be taken as a comprehensive statement about North Street Capital and its role in the Spyker deal. Muller said yes.
“I was quoted correctly and I am of the opinion Mr. Mascioli and his fund (if it really exists) are time wasters,” Muller wrote on Monday.
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