Significant news emerged today in the Genmar bankruptcy proceedings when the stalking horse bid was made public.

Court records confirm that global acquisition firm Platinum Equity – or more specifically, its subsidiary Project Boat Holdings – has emerged as the leading bidder in the bankruptcy.

Platinum Equity's holdings include USRobotics, the San Diego Union-Tribune and Matrix Business Technologies, among many others.

Genmar filed an Asset Purchase Agreement with the U.S. Minnesota Bankruptcy

Court which supports Project Boat's bid to purchase seven Genmar brands – Ranger, Stratos, Champion, Wellcraft, Four Winns, Glastron and Larson – for the price of $55 million. Included in the sale would be the real estate and production facilities at Flippin, Ark., Cadillac, Mich. and Murfreesboro, Tenn., as well as real estate located in Sarasota, Fla.

Project Boat did not bid on other Genmar brands including Carver, Marquis, Seaswirl, FinCraft, Hydra­Sport and Javelin.

What the Bid Means

Project Boat became a stalking horse earlier this fall when it emerged as the best and most qualified bidder during the bankrupcty proceedings. That means Project Boat not only pledged the most money among interested parties, but was also well capitalized to see its bid through.

With official notification of the bid, there's now a baseline value in the sale process for what many see as the heart and soul of Genmar – Ranger, Four Winns and the other related brands.

However, the bid is still only a bid, and it's expected that former Genmar chairman and CEO Irwin Jacobs will attempt to submit a competing bid, perhaps for those seven companies, perhaps for Genmar as a whole. Jacobs, of course, would need to secure the capital to make that qualified bid, and has largely been quiet on his plans.

An auction timeline for the bid process and the final auction date have been set. Here's a summary:

  • December 8, 2009 -- Sale procedures hearing
  • January 4, 2010 -- Due date for bids
  • January 7, 2010 -- Auction
  • January 13, 2010 -- Sale approval hearing
  • January 20, 2010 -- Closing

    Impact on Pro Fishing

    As reported previously by BassFan, the fate of FLW Outdoors is tied in large part to the bid process, since its purpose as a fishing league under the direction of Jacobs is to sell Ranger boats (and to a lesser extent Stratos and Champion).

    The auction date of Jan. 7 falls approximately 1 month before the kickoff of the 2010 FLW Tour, less than 1 month before the start of the 2010 Eastern FLW Series and about a week before the 2010 Western FLW Series begins.

    News continues to filter out that several sponsors are awaiting news of the bankruptcy proceedings before signing sponsor contracts for 2010. Yamaha, as one example, told BassFan it could not yet commit to a 2010 FLW Outdoors sponsorship without definitive news of the Genmar sale.

    The late auction date could push back sponsor negotiations even further.

    The late auction date also puts pro anglers in a very difficult position, since many are sponsored by Yamaha and Ranger, and must negotiate boat and engine deals prior to the start of the competitive season.

    Notable too is that court documents show Textron Financial holds title to many Ranger memo-billed boats at a 70% secured interest.

    In other words, an angler's memo-billed Ranger is actually owned by Textron. Additionally, the fact that Textron only carries a 70% secured interest could mean an angler or tour pro would only owe 70% of the invoice price of the boat at the end of the memo bill to match Textron's secured interest.

    That still doesn't help the host of pros waiting to hear about boat and motor deals for 2010.

    For now, January 7 – the date of the final auction – looms large across the sport. And it can't come soon enough for those whose futures hinge on the outcome.