Thursday, August 28, 2008

Steel Partners closer to Goal at Point Blank

Activist turned private equity investor Warren Lichtenstein is one step closer to his goal of buying body armor maker Point Blank Solutions Inc. or having it consider strategic options, including a sale.

The insurgent, who manages the New York-based activist fund Steel Partners, took five of seven board seats on the $153 million stock market capitalization company in a proxy contest on Tuesday. The Pompano Beach, Fla.-based company's market capitalization is roughly half its size compared to a year ago, and its former Chief Executive has been arrested on charges of fraud.

"We continue to believe that Point Blank should not remain a standalone company competing on uneven terms against much larger competitors in a weakening market," Lichtenstein said in a statement. "Steel Partners is committed to maximizing stockholder value by exploring all strategic alternatives, including possible sale of all or a portion of the Company on the most favorable terms available to Point Blank stockholders."

Steel Partners, which has a 9.6% Point Blank stake, offered last year to buy the company for $281 million. The company rejected the bid.

Steel Partners, traditionally known for pushing companies to auction themselves or find other means of improving shareholder value, is no stranger to bidding or buying companies. The activist fund, together with Newcastle Partners, another hybrid activist and buyout shop manager, acquired Fox & Hound Restaurant Group in 2006. The two funds later acquired Champps Entertainment Inc. In addition to restaurant chains, Steel Partners focuses a large chunk of its activist efforts on defense industry companies. In 2004, the fund unsuccessfully bid to buy aerospace engineering systems manufacturer GenCorp. Inc.

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