News broke of the sale Monday, as Vista Outdoor lets go of Savage and Stevens.
Anoka, Minnesota-based Vista Outdoor, Inc. announced the $170 million sale of the Savage Arms and Stevens firearms brands to a financial buyer. News was shared by the company in a Monday press release.
No other details about the buyer were shared as of press time.
Savage, a popular American gun maker offering a plethora of rimfire and centerfire rifles in a range of prices and applications, has been around since its original foundation in 1894. It's headquartered in Westfield, Massachusetts. Stevens is the lesser-known shotgun-oriented brand, but still very much an innovator and quality gunmaker in the space.
It's the latest, and some would say inevitable, move by the Vista to put more emphasis on ammo production (Federal Ammunition is owned by Vista) and other hunting-specific branded gear. It also helped the cost-cutting, debt-reducing business plan previously announced by the company and set forth by Chris Metz, Chief Executive Officer of Vista Outdoor.
"Divesting our Savage brand was a key aspect of our transformation plan," said Metz. "While it was a difficult decision to sell such an iconic brand, I remain confident that this was the correct choice to help Vista Outdoor grow in those categories where we can have leadership positions. Savage is a fantastic business, and it deserves to continue to evolve into other firearms categories. At this time, however, we simply do not have the resources to transform Savage into the full-service firearms company that it deserves to be and, therefore, we determined the brand would be better off with a different owner. We're excited to see Savage reach its full potential under new ownership."
Savage was acquired from Vista's predecessor, ATK, in 2013, and the business - which included Savage, Bushnell, Federal, CCI Ammunition, and dozens of other hunting and shooting accessories brands - spun off to become Vista Outdoor in 2015.
The deal "comprised of $158 million paid at closing and $12 million to be paid upon maturity of a five-year seller note issued by the buyer to Vista Outdoor in connection with the transaction," according to the official press release.
The net after-tax proceeds of the sale will be used by Vista Outdoor to repay outstanding indebtedness.
"Reducing our debt is a key part of turning around our business," said Metz. "Selling Savage and further reducing our overall leverage will improve our financial flexibility and better position the company for long-term growth. We've now rebuilt the company's foundation to provide a more stable base upon which to grow. We have a portfolio of brands that all have the potential to be strong, market leaders in their respective categories and I'm proud of my team's efforts in reshaping the portfolio over the course of the past year."
It seems things came down to a simple matter; Vista doesn't have the necessary resources to push Savage and Stevens into the growth potential they've shown. A stronger focus on its hunting brands, Federal Ammunition, outdoor cooking products (Camp Chef), hydration bottles and packs (CamelBak), and cycling/ski helmets and accessories looks like the direction Vista is headed.