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U.S. police opposition to $1.9B Vista-Czech ammo deal builds

Apr 29, 2024

An NYPD officer. Photo: Alex Kent/Getty Images

Another police organization has come out against Vista Outdoor's $1.9 billion agreement to sell its ammunition unit to a Czech arms company

Why it matters: Growing opposition from U.S. law enforcement groups and members of Congress comes as rival bidder MNC Capital vies to buy all of Vista Outdoor.

Zoom in: In an April 26 letter obtained by Axios, the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) said it shared many of the same concerns issued by the National Sheriffs' Association in their letter posted earlier in the month.

  • NAPO is a coalition of police unions and associations that represent 241,000 sworn law enforcement officers.
  • Both the Sheriffs' Association and NAPO addressed their letters to the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security.

What they're saying: In its letter, NAPO says it is concerned with the control that the Czechoslovakia Group (CSG) would have of the U.S. ammo market if it completes the acquisition of Vista's ammunition unit.

  • "There will be increased concentration in the small arms ammunition and primer sphere, with a single foreign entity controlling a significant share of the market," NAPO said in its letter, citing a global supply shortage of both ammo and primers, a gun propellant.

The other side: David Stepan, a CSG board member, issued a response letter to the Sheriffs' Association, assuring the group that the combined company would be a U.S. business and that it already has relationships with U.S. law enforcement agencies, including Homeland Security.

  • Stepan said the company has invested in its Arkansas and Missouri facilities to address supply concerns and that these facilities are led by American management teams.
  • "Further, we remind you that the Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") has cleared the transaction from an antitrust perspective, demonstrating no material anti-competitive concerns," he said in the letter.
  • CSG declined to comment on the NAPO letter.

Catch up quick: Vista's two main businesses are the ammo unit — known as The Kinetic Group — and Outdoor Products, which makes gear such as CamelBak water packs and Camp Chef stoves.

  • The company initially planned to spin off the two businesses, with Vista's management team staying on to run the outdoor business.
  • Before the spinoff could happen, CSG moved to acquire the ammo business.

The intrigue: Private investment group MNC Capital offered to buy both businesses for $3 billion.

  • MNC is run by Mark Gottfredson, who previously sat on Vista's board. MNC's offer came in after the CSG deal was signed.

What's next: The Committee on Foreign Investment into the United States (CFIUS) is reviewing the Vista-CSG agreement.

  • Vista's special meeting of shareholders to vote on the CSG deal is on June 14.
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