by Bob Wonders
The long-running saga is over as Standard Bank is revealed as the new owner of Mustang Marine.
Standard Bank logo b
It took 81-days involving bid, counter bid and contractual ‘hiccups’, but the deal has been done and the Standard Bank, a group boasting assets exceeding US$119 billion and employing more than 40,000 staff has emerged as the new owner of Mustang Marine.
Mustang Marine now powering ahead
Mustang Marine was placed into receivership on October 19 by its credit provider, the National Australia Bank.
Receivers Ferrier Hodgson took control of the company as rumours flew thick and fast throughout the boating industry.
Peter Gothard, a senior partner with Ferrier Hodgson remained true to his word; 'We intend to sell the company as a going concern,' he said.
Although never confirmed, up to nine ‘serious bidders’ expressed interest in the company.
Needless to say, no one is happier than those employed at the boat manufacturer.
'With its future determined, it’s full steam ahead for Mustang,' marketing manager Adam Forrester declared.
'I am excited that the company is now back on its feet and our new owners, together with all of us on staff, intend to quickly interact with our customers, dealers and suppliers to rebuild confidence in the company and its future.
'It has been a hard few weeks, but I have been encouraged by the support, enthusiasm and hard work exhibited by key people,' he added.
While Forrester admitted it was 'very early days' as far as the company’s future plans were concerned, he suggested announcements were in the wings, particularly in regards to production, research and development.
The Standard Bank is a global group with South African connections. It rates as South Africa’s largest banking organisation, with operations in 17 African countries. Its group operations cover 21 nations worldwide.
Powerboat-World was able to speak exclusively with a top Standard Bank official who was closely involved with the acquisition. He asked that his name not be revealed.
We put a range of pertinent questions to him, including his explanation, if any, on the many rumours circulating ‘around the traps.’
Powerboat-World: Will the purchase price be disclosed? Industry gossip suggests figures of AUD$5 to AUD$8 million was paid.
Banking Executive: I don’t think the price paid is relevant to the future of the business as far as its customers are concerned. What I can say is that we see real opportunity to build on a great brand.
PB-W: Industry rumours are that former CEO (sacked by the receivers) Paul Scanlon is somehow involved. True or false?
BE: Mr Scanlon has offered his services. He has worked hard to move Mustang forward over the last few years. I thank Paul for his efforts. There is always going to be room for the right people in a business and industry as close knit as this.
PB-W: If Scanlon as yet is not involved, has a CEO/General Manager been appointed?
BE: We need to choose a CEO objectively. We, the business, the customers, dealers and suppliers want the best person available for the job. We welcome applications. There are existing internal and external candidates and this includes former employees.
PB-W: Will the manufacturing facility remain at Molendinar (an industrial suburb west of the commercial/retail centre at Southport)? If not, is a move being planned and if so to where?
BE: The business has been at Molendinar for a number of years. Our lease expires soon and is therefore being renegotiated, but there are also alternative sites. However we have a family of employees, suppliers and so forth and I can’t see any reason why the business would go anywhere remote in the near future.
PB-W: A number of staff left and took other jobs when receivers were appointed. Is a recruitment drive planned?
BE: We intend to always ‘right size’ – as the business develops so does the requirement for employees.
PB-W: Will the former Mustang Marine dealer network be retained?
BE: We are engaging with all the current dealers and seeking their views on the next steps that need to be taken.
PB-W: Any plans to expand/reduce the current Mustang model range?
BE: We have some great plans for the product, but we’re not yet in a position to make announcements.
We see a great brand, a great business and great people in this industry. I am just pleased that Mustang is back.
So, there you have it.
In its evaluation of the Mustang Marine business, the bank noted its 'strong global brand', together with its perceived strength and appeal to the Australasian market.
The bank also said it was encouraged by the marine industry’s growth in the Asian segment and believes the manufacturer is well placed to take advantage of the opportunities available from this expanding region.
In a press statement issued by Mustang Marine, it was claimed that 'with a new ownership structure and new direction, the events of the past few weeks will be but a speed bump as the company continues down its road to international expansion.'
Those of us with the good of the marine industry at heart sincerely hope that will be the case.