NZ's Navman to be sold soon: founder
- October 18, 2006 - 2:09PM
of the darling of New Zealand's high-tech industry, Navman, is imminent and it can't come soon enough, according to company founder Peter Maire.
"Rumours are it (the sale) is getting closer, which would be a great thing, he told NZPA.
"It needs a new owner to love it because it's losing a lot of people. It's heartbreaking to see that happening."
US marine products giant Brunswick Corp put its Brunswick New Technologies (BNT) unit, including Navman, on the block in April.
Mr Maire believed a private equity firm from Europe
was about to snap up the Auckland-based firm he founded in 1988.
Brunswick completed the purchase
of Navman, which makes Global Position Systems (GPS) technology, two years ago for $NZ108 million ($A95.05 million).
BNT, mainly comprising Navman, had annual sales last year of $US317 million ($A421.85 million) and Navman reported a profit of $NZ127.2 million ($A111.95 million). Brunswick would expect to get over $NZ500 million ($A440.04 million) for the unit.
Mr Maire said Navman had become a victim of a change at the top which former chief executive George Buckley had been replaced as chairman and chief executive by Dustan McCoy.
Mr Buckley was credited with leading a turnaround at the Lake Forest, Illinois-based Brunswick Corp, that helped more than double the share price
In December, he moved to try to resuscitate 3M.
Mr McCoy has decided on a back-to-basics approach at the boat and leisure products maker. That included deciding to sell Navman
"Brunswick had gone from being a company with a technology strategy to one that decided technology wasn't on," Mr Maire said.
"When you don't have an owner, the staff feel unloved.
"It's bitterly disappointing for myself and the management team."
Navman was losing key staff, its culture and momentum.
"It's still a great company. It can recover. It had a huge year last year, achieving $NZ450m in sales," said Mr Maire.
Among those to have departed, apart from Mr Maire who was Navman's former chairman, are former chief executive Stephen Newman and second in charge Jim Doyle.
"They both got sick of the bureaucracy and the lack of forward movement."
A group of vice presidents below those two had exited as well.
"There has been a chain reaction."
He said the Navman experience was instructive for New Zealand.
"A fantastic management team with a good resource can achieve amazing things on the world stage from New Zealand and at the same time, when that team is not backed by the investor base, then people who believe strongly in the business exit quickly.
sets in quickly and in technology, it sets in very quickly."
Brunswick, a Fortune 500 company that makes Mercury
and Mariner outboard
boat engines, was seen as having huge spin-off benefits for Navman as it is a major seller of boats around the world and opened up a global sales channel.
However, boat sales have been hit by higher oil
prices, profits have been cut an cost cutting was instituted.
Prime Minister Helen Clark last year opened Navman's swish new office in Auckland
where most of its 450 staff work.
This month, Navman said it was laying off around 30 of its 600 staff from its Auckland and Christchurch offices.
Brunswick spokesman Dan Kubera reportedly said the cuts were to "streamline" the company. There was no indication of when the cuts would take place.
Canterbury Manufacturers address
Posted on 13 June 2005
We can look at a firm like Navman.
As a manufacturer of advanced navigational equipment, this company has an international focus.
It has the potential to become a significant part of Brunswick Corporation, its US owner.
But not all of Navman's production
is based here in New Zealand.
Those activities it locates here are those New Zealand is the best at.
Put yourself on the right path--from the palm of your hand--with the ICN330 from Navman. It employs a SiRF Star 2 Xtrac GPS
receiver and SmartST navigation software
to deliver even the most complex directions. Powered by a 200MHz Intel PXA255 processor and 32MB SDRAM internal memory, it offers up Tele Atlas maps in a variety of views on the 2.83" diagonal anti-glare, high-resolution color display. Once you arrive, the unit is packed with points of interest from restrooms to restaurants. And, if you should miss an instruction, Back on Track technology returns you to your course in no time.
Measures approximately 4-7/8" x 3-1/8" x 1-5/8".
UL listed. 1-year LMW.
Made in China.
All I am saying is that Brunswick is selling Navman being by shares or whatever as they own the company and we spoke to Dusty in Las Vegas and he verified that they were selling Navman, Northstar and MX. Also there are other items besides there radios being made outside of New Zealand. Items all where components are made outside and then assembled in New Zealand. From a sales stand point we have seen more warranty problems than before. Navman has always been very helpful and effecient in solving them but we still have a customer who is inconvencied.