Bear Stearns Unit to Buy CamelBak Products

From Bloomberg News

Bear Stearns Cos.' private equity arm will buy closely held recreational equipment maker CamelBak Products Inc. for $210 million from the Bowes family, which bought it for $4 million in 1995.

"The company has done swell. It's time for somebody else to take it over," John G. Bowes, CamelBak's chairman, said in a telephone interview. The San Francisco-based investor, who had owned the company with his daughters, said he would leave the firm when Bear Stearns completes the purchase.

CamelBak, based in Petaluma, Calif., was established in 1989 by former paramedic Michael Edison and makes backpacks for runners, skaters, cyclists and hikers that allow them to drink hands-free during physical activity. It also makes those products for hunters, the government and the military.

CamelBak Chief Executive Glenn Gross, 59, said he would remain as CEO after the purchase by the seventh-largest securities firm. The all-cash deal, arranged through an auction conducted by J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., will close by month's end, CamelBak said.

"Some other firms saw it as a single-product opportunity. We saw it as more of a category. You think about the military, training and other recreational users," said Bo Arlander, senior managing director at Bear Stearns.

Bear Stearns will invest at least $90 million and will use $80 million of senior debt and $40 million of subordinated debt to complete the transaction.

Bowes declined to discuss CamelBak's earnings.

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