Private equity executive Stephen Feinberg, in tandem with other Cerberus Capital Management LP partners, may be planning a bid for gun maker Freedom Group Inc., in a move designed to generate other offers for the manufacturer, Reuters reports.
Freedom makes the Bushmaster rifle, which was used during December’s shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The company also makes Remington, DPMS/Panther Arms, Marlin, H&R, the Parker Gun, Mountain Khakis, Advanced Armament Corp, Dakota Arms, Para USA and Barnes Bullets brand products.
As Mergers & Acquisitions previously reported, Cerberus announced on Dec. 18 that it would sell portfolio company Freedom, saying “we were shocked and deeply saddened by the events that took place at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.” Coincidentally, Stephen Feinberg’s father, Martin Feinberg, is a resident of Newton.
The Cerberus divestment announcement came on the heels of comments made by a spokesperson for the California State Teachers’ Retirement Systems (CalSTRS) that the pension fund, one of Cerberus’ biggest limited partners (LPs), was “examining the Cerberus investment to determine how best to move forward.” In addition, California treasurer Bill Lockyer told reporters he believes neither CalSTRS or the California Public Employees’ Retirement Systems (CalPERS) “should have any investments in the makers of guns that are illegal in California, especially when those guns have been used to kill 20 innocent children and six innocent adults.” And the University of California, another Cerberus LP, said it does not want to invest in companies that manufacture or distribute firearms.
Several other state officials have also requested pension fund reviews. Massachusetts treasurer Steve Grossman asked Pension Reserves Investment Management, the state’s pension fund, to look into investments in gun companies after the shooting. Grossman said that, while it was the fund’s duty to maximize returns, he would not ignore the values of Massachusetts residents. Rhode Island treasurer Gina Raimondo also directed a state pension fund investigation in the shooting’s aftermath. Connecticut treasurer Denise Nappier said that she would inspect the state’s pension plan’s investment in gun companies.
In January, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined the fray, calling for a portfolio analysis from the city’s five pension funds, saying “we cannot support or invest in companies that profit from the proliferation of assault weapons and the violence these guns bring to our communities.”
For more on how investors are viewing social issues, see “Investing ‘Responsibly?’”