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Triton for sale?

The boat business is abuzz with talk that Brunswick Corp. will sell its Triton Boats brand. Platinum Equity is believed to be the buyer.

Project Boat Holdings, a Platinum Equity subsidiary, acquired a number of boat brands at the Genmar bankruptcy auction including Ranger, Champion and Stratos. If the rumors are true, the addition of Triton to that portfolio would be significant. Brunswick would recede from the bass-boat market and leave Project Boat, Tracker Marine, Skeeter and Bass Cat as the dominant bass-boat companies.

Interesting is that the boat-building community assumes Earl Bentz will not regain control of the Triton brand. He started the company, then sold to Brunswick in May 2005, but stayed on as president.

Also interesting is that some industry leaders believe the potential sale of Triton and BASS are linked. Many have pointed out the close friendship between Jerry McKinnis and Ranger founder Forrest Wood. Presumably, if Project Boat did purchase the Triton brand, it would move production to Ranger headquarters in Flippin, Ark., as it did with Stratos.

Because Project Boat is a private-equity firm with a grow-and-sell plan, it could foreseeably sell its boat brands within a few years. The Wood family back at the helm of Ranger et. al., allied with a McKinnis-led group at the head of BASS, could make for a powerful partnership.

Again, all rumor, but it's a heavy line of conversation in the industry right now.

Not unrelated: The talk of a Triton sale has also raised talk of whether Brunswick would seek to sell its Lund and Crestliner aluminum brands.

Neither Brunswick nor Platinum Equity would comment on the rumors. Brunswick, as a publicly traded company, cannot comment on potential sales or acquisitions. Platinum told BassFan it doesn't comment on market rumors nor potential sales or acquisitions.

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