Czech gunmaker Colt CZ makes offer for Vista Outdoor

PRAGUE (Reuters) -Czech gunmaker Colt CZ Group has made an offer to Vista Outdoor, valuing the U.S. sporting and outdoor goods group at about $1.7 billion, according to Reuters calculations.

Vista said in a statement it had not made any determination about the $30 per share cash and stock proposal, which is at a premium to its last closing price of around $25.75, though below a 2023 high of $33.78 hit in September.

Colt CZ said it proposed keeping the company together, scrapping Vista’s planned sale of its sporting products business to privately held Czechoslovak Group (CSG), announced in October in a $1.91 billion deal.

“The market’s view of the Czechoslovak Group transaction was clear in its reaction to the announcement, which resulted in the rapid fall in (Vista’s) share price on October 16, 2023,” Colt CZ said in a letter to Vista’s board published on its website late on Wednesday.

“We would keep the company together, allowing continued upside for current Vista shareholders with the ‘New Vista’ retaining its listing in the U.S.”

Colt CZ said its offer of “a strategic combination” included a $900 million share buyback programme that it would conduct after the transaction had closed, funded by $600 million of new equity issued at the transaction price and $300 million of debt.

Vista shareholders would hold about 55% in the new company under the deal, Colt CZ said.

Vista said it would review Colt CZ’s proposal but that it had not made any change in its recommendation for the CSG deal.

“Vista Outdoor’s Board of Directors remains committed to acting in the best interests of Vista Outdoor stockholders,” it said. “Vista Outdoor stockholders do not need to take any action at this time.”

CSG declined to comment on the Colt CZ offer.

When announcing the sale of its sporting products business on Oct. 16, Vista also cut its full-year sales forecast.

Colt CZ, along with a majority shareholder and its chairman, together acquired more than 5% of Vista shares, they announced in October.

The Czech group acquired U.S. gun brand Colt in 2021.

Colt CZ said on Thursday its adjusted nine-month earnings before interest, tax, deprecation and amortisation (EBITDA) fell 17.3% year-on-year to 1.9 billion crowns ($84.8 million), as a recovery in the U.S. commercial market had been slower than expected.

Colt CZ shares fell around 3% at the Prague open but had recovered to trade down 0.2% by 0919 GMT.

($1 = 22.4040 Czech crowns)

(Reporting by Jason HovetEditing by Mark Potter)