By David Crane
defrev (at) gmail (dot) com
Originally published on August 24, 2009
Updated on 8/25/09
Pulled on 8/26/09
Reinstituted and updated on 10/06/09
DefenseReview has just received an email communication from a professional contact of ours stating that it appears that Freedom Group/Cerberus Capital Management, L.P. has just acquired, or is in the process of acquiring, silencer/sound suppressor manufacturer Advanced Armament Corp. (AAC) for $40 million (40M). Right now, Defense Review is classifying this information as a rumor / uconfirmed/unverified report, since we have not yet been able to confirm this information. However, if Cerberus did indeed acquire AAC, we can’t blame them, since AAC makes great muzzle cans (and flash hiders/adapters) and utilizes some very advanced machinery and processes to do so.
DefenseReview’s industry source’s point about Freedom Group’s/Cerberus’ seeming attempt to “complete a full circle on small arms platforms” is interesting. Over the last few years, private tactical firearms and related companies have been falling one-by-one like dominoes and been assimilated into a single gargantuan and seemingly Borg-like New York-based “private investment firm” (that would be Cerberus). It’s a bit unsettling, actually. The big-picture question is how many large firearms and related companies can Cerberus acquire before they start getting into antitrust territory? At what point does antitrust come into play? It would seem logical that they eventually could if they keep going, but we don’t know.
A writer for newser named Jonas Oransky describes Freedom Group’s/Cerberus’ CEO Stephen Feinberg as “ultra-secretive, ultra-cutthroat“. Having never met or spoken with Mr. Feinberg, DefRev has no knowledge of the “ultra-cutthroat” part, but, so far, he certainly appears to be fairly secretive. The tactical industry chatter on Feinberg is that he’s a serious firearms enthusiast, which, if true, is a good thing considering that he now controls so many tactical firearms and related companies and is the financial equivalent of the proverbial 800-pound silver back gorilla–and this gorilla’s got a Black Card. Let’s just hope he’s friendly and ardently supports the Second Amendment. I’d hate to find out that someone that powerful in the industry is anti-Second Amendment and/or a closet anti-private-gun-ownership socialist. That would NOT be good. From the outside, Feinberg appears to be the former (pro-Second Amendment), but we don’t know for certain. We’ve never met him or spoken with him. In fact, we’ve never even seen him in person, as far as we know. Maybe we’ve seen him at SHOT Show and just not recognized him. He’s somewhat mysterious and ghost-like. In that respect (invisibility and secretiveness), he reminds us a little of a (seemingly) pro-gun Howard Hughes, sans Hughes’ crazy aspect.
Even if Feinberg is the big-bucks-laden bogeyman–or affluent acquisition-crazed apparition–that Oransky describes (and we’re not saying he is) DefenseReview is keeping an open mind about him (Feinberg) and Freedom Group/Cerberus. Feinberg may very well be the nicest and coolest guy in the room, and a benevolent boogyman. And Freedom Group/Cerberus is probably a completely trustworthy, pro-2nd Amendment company-collecting corporate colossus. We’re giving them the benefit of the doubt.
Another industry/professional contact of ours, Vidal Ybarra of tactical training firm Tier 1 Group (T1G), spoke positively of Mr. Feinberg (albeit in cryptic fashion) when we spoke with him by phone awhile back, and said Cerberus has good intentions. But then again, Cerberus owns T1G.
DefenseReview is going to try to get confirmation on this breaking corporate-acquisition information/rumor. If it’s accurate, we’ll let you know, and if it’s inaccurate, we’ll let you know. In the meantime, the following is a sanitized copy of the message Defense Review received on it:
From: XXXX XXXX
Date: Mon, Aug 24, 2009 at 8:05 PM
Subject: News on Cerberus or rumor
To: David Crane , “XXXX, XXXX”
Now Cerberus has Bushmaster, Remington, AAC and DPMS under their
flag…looks like they are trying to complete a full circle on small
Addendum/Update 8/25/09: DefenseReview managed to reach Advanced Armament Corp. (AAC) owner Kevin Brittingham by phone today, and we were able to confirm that Cerberus has NOT acquired AAC. So, the rumor that’s been floating around out there about it is untrue. So, rumor debunked. Makes you wonder who put that rumor out there and why. If anyone’s got any info on it, we’d like to find out. Editor’s Note: AAC makes great products, so it wouldn’t surprise us in the least if a larger company indeed wanted to acquire them. AAC’s stuff is solid.