A US$1.05 billion deal is proposed for a Norwegian business with significant operations in New Zealand, and a Kiwi involved describes it as "a total slam dunk".
American global technology giant Brunswick Corporation is to pay US$1.05b ($1.5b) for Navico, whose research and development operation is headed by Jarred Clayton from offices at Rosedale on Auckland's North Shore.
John Scott, a Navico director based in Auckland, said today: "I honestly couldn't be happier. It's a total slam dunk of a deal. You can't normally say that but it's good for everyone: owners, staff but most importantly customers."
Although Navico is Norwegian-headquartered, its core R&D has been carried out from the Rosedale office for nearly two decades.
Brunswick announced yesterday that it has entered into a definitive agreement to buy Navico with its global operations. Navico has about 2000 employees and distributes in more than 100 countries.
The latest deal echoes one done nearly two decades ago when Brunswick bought Navman in 2004. Navman also had extensive operations in New Zealand.
Scott said the American company's purchase spelt a bright future for Navico. "Brunswick is the only company in the marine industry with scale and capabilities to deliver a seamless customer experience in a boat and then support it, appreciating that a boat is like a mini floating city with power, electrical, waste, air-con, fuel, water, communications, etc.
"A boat in that sense is like a car but navigating and integrated in a totally different way that is not always obvious," Scott said.
Brunswick had extensive capabilities and brands which would give it the potential to change the industry, he said.
"The aim is the integration of everything in boats so anyone can use them on day one. No one does that will today. Everyone looks to cars as the benchmark for this sort of thing but this deal could change that," Scott said.
Navico, whose president and chief executive is Knut Frostad, is a privately owned business based in Norway's Egersund. It is co-owned by Altor Fund IV and Goldman Sachs Asset Management.
It makes fish finders, autopilots, sonar and radar and cartography equipment.
Navico's revenue was about $US470 million for the 12 months to May 31, 2021.
In 2008, the Herald reported how Navico had chosen to make Auckland its international hub for research and development, picking the North Shore division of its international business for its largest innovation division, going on a global recruiting drive to employ 50 more staff in manufacturing and support in the past year.
In 2007, Navico bought the marine division of Navman, the electronics business started in Auckland by Peter Maire.
In 2004, Maire had sold the company he formed in his garage in 1986 to Brunswick for $108m.
When Navico bought the electronics marine business from Brunswick, the division was suffering from low morale and a staff exodus. At the time, Maire said Brunswick had grown sales to about $450m but got cold feet and stopped spending.
By 2009 things looked grim. Navico in New Zealand was facing the threat of the closure of its plant and mass redundancies.
John Scott, who was then Navico Asia-Pacific's chief operating officer, and Stuart MacPherson, Navico's North Shore operations manager, said closure was being discussed.
But Navico's R&D division in Auckland recovered and expanded. In 2013 Navico won the NZ Trade and Enterprise award for the best contribution to the hi-tech sector from a multinational company.
"Pretty obviously, we did close the manufacturing facility but we also less obviously more than doubled the size of the Navico R&D plus the wider team," Scott said today
One of the biggest problems in acknowledging the success of Navico was that people don't buy Navico-branded products, he said.
"But most New Zealand boaties would know the product under brands such Simrad, B&G and Lowrance. Only a few people would recognise the contribution to these is from here, New Zealand," Scott said.