FORT VALLEY, Ga. — On Aug. 25, Blue Bird Corp. announced the signing of a definitive agreement to be acquired by an affiliate of Cerberus Capital Management. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Jeffry Bust, president and CEO of Blue Bird, said the acquisition is “a significant step forward ensuring Blue Bird will remain one of the world’s leading school and commercial bus manufacturers. The acquisition also provides financial stability for our distributors, suppliers and employees.”
The proposed transaction was expected to close in September. Kroll Zolfo Cooper LLC served as the exclusive financial adviser to Blue Bird in connection with the transaction.
In late January, Blue Bird Corp. filed a prepackaged restructuring plan with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Nevada. The plan was confirmed by the court and became effective within a few days. Among other things, it increased the company’s borrowing availability by $52.5 million.
Cerberus, a New York-based hedge fund that invests in distressed companies, acquired North American Bus Industries (NABI), a manufacturer of transit buses, earlier this year. In turn, NABI acquired another transit bus manufacturer, Optima Bus Corp. in Wichita, Kan., in August.
Blue Bird, founded in 1927, manufactures Type A, C and D school buses, as well as a line of commercial buses and motorhomes. It has 3,000 employees at manufacturing facilities in Fort Valley; Lafayette, Ga.; and Brantford, Ontario.
Since October 2004, Blue Bird has been the sole operating subsidiary of Peach County Holdings, a group formed by Volvo (42.5 percent), a syndicate of creditors of past owner Henlys (42.5 percent) and Blue Bird management and a pension fund (15 percent).
In other news, Blue Bird Corp. promoted Jim Moberg, general manager of service parts, to vice president of school bus sales and marketing following the retirement of 29-year veteran Kim Cassell.
Cassell’s leadership is credited with contributing immensely to Blue Bird’s success. In retirement, Cassell will dedicate his energy to his volunteer outreach ministry activities and to spending time with his wife and family.
Since joining the Blue Bird fold in 2004, Moberg has spearheaded growth and productivity increases in the company’s service parts organization by working closely with distributors and the school bus sales organization. He has led both the product support and customer service teams and directed the department’s strategic and marketing campaigns.