Brunswick Buys Boat Brands for $191 Million

Monday March 8, 11:17 am ET


CHICAGO  Brunswick Corp.  the world's largest recreational boat maker, on Monday said it has agreed to acquire three aluminum boat brands from privately held Genmar Holdings Inc. for a total of $191 million in cash to expand into a new market.

Brunswick said the purchase of the Crestliner, Lowe and Lund boat lines will expand its product line into aluminum boats, where it has little presence. The purchase is expected to add 14 cents to its earnings per share annually.

Minneapolis-based Genmar is controlled by Irwin Jacobs, a former 1980s-style corporate raider known as "Irv the Liquidator" for his penchant for buying and breaking up his target companies.

Now mostly engaged in building companies, Jacobs said he plans to use the cash to pay off debt and expand Genmar, a company that will have 13 boat brands, 6,000 employees and more than $900 million in sales after the sale.

Jacobs, Genmar's chairman, said he's particularly focused on building high-end fiberglass boats using inventions from VEC Technology, a company that Genmar spun off three weeks ago. The technology, said Jacobs, can make fiberglass reflect light like a mirror, among other properties.

"It's a game changing breakthrough for the world of large fiberglass parts," said Jacobs in an interview. Jacobs, 62, has kept a low national profile since becoming embroiled in a tussle three years ago with corporate raider Carl Icahn over insurance carrier Conseco Inc., which recently emerged from bankruptcy. Icahn predicted Conseco's failure, but Jacobs was equally adamant in backing Conseco, blasting Icahn in full-page newspaper advertisements.