The firearms maker with the troubled financial history went broke two ways — slowly, and then suddenly. Paul Barrett reports on the second way:
As I reported in a feature story last year, the private equity firm Sciens Capital and its affiliates loaded Colt with debt since the mid-2000s while taking cash out in the form of “distributions” and “advisory fees.” Sciens remains the controlling owner of Colt Defense, according to a regulatory filing. An executive with Sciens did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
In 2009 and 2010, meanwhile, Colt somehow missed out on the “Obama surge,” a run of strong civilian gun sales prompted by fears whipped up by the National Rifle Association that the Democratic president would stiffen federal gun control. The panic-based buying that lifted the small arms industry has now eased, making it even more difficult for Colt to move the military-style semiautomatic rifles it had hoped would be its salvation. “The industry’s recent rapid growth is expected to slow over the next five years, increasing at a more modest average annual rate of 4.1 percent,” according to the research firm Ibisworld.
What a waste.
I recommend Barrett’s book Glock: The Rise of America’s Gun for the story of the little Austrian knife company who ate America’s gunmakers’ lunch.