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Gryphon Investors Announces Acquisition of MSD Ignition.

Business Editors/Automotive Writers


Gryphon Investors, a San Francisco-based private equity firm, announced that the firm has completed the purchase of privately-held Autotronic Controls Corporation, better known as MSD Ignition, a branded, consumer products company that manufactures and sells high-performance automotive ignition components to aftermarket suppliers. Terms were not disclosed.

MSD, based in El Paso, Texas, is the largest aftermarket performance ignition manufacturer in North America, dominating both the professional and enthusiast markets with a commanding 70% market share of ignition product sales. MSD's products (which include ignition controls, distributors, ignition coils, spark plug wires, and magnetos) were utilized on every single winning vehicle on the Winston Cup NASCAR circuit in 2003, and powered every winning dragster in the NHRA Top Fuel, Pro Stock, and Funny Car circuits in 2002. In addition to automotive applications, the company's products are also used in a variety of powersports applications, including ATVs, jet skis, power boats, and motorcycles.

Benefiting from the rapidly expanding popularity of professional racing, MSD has exhibited tremendous growth over the past decade and is poised to expand its growth rate building upon its leading brand name, dominant market share and superior technology.

"This acquisition represents another example of Gryphon's successful strategy of proactively targeting attractive industry sectors and developing market-leading businesses," said David Andrews, President and Managing General Partner of Gryphon Investors. "With MSD we are investing in a leading performance motor sports brand and we are excited about building upon the reputation of quality and customer service established by the company and its founders."

MSD was founded in 1970 by Jack Priegel and a group of engineers from the White Sands, New Mexico, Missile Range. Mr. Priegel is retiring as CEO, and Daniel R. Gresham will join MSD as President and CEO.

Gresham, 57, joins MSD with over 25 years of management and investment experience. Gresham was most recently CEO of Dynojet Research, Inc., a company that develops diagnostic performance testing equipment for the motorcycle aftermarket performance parts industry. At Dynojet, Mr. Gresham successfully transitioned the company from a small, family-run company to a professionally managed, market-focused, financially sophisticated organization, tripling annual revenues in four years.

"Our leadership team is committed to continuing MSD's achievements in developing absolutely cutting-edge products and satisfying our intensely loyal customer base," said Gresham. "With the growing popularity of motor racing, we see new opportunities to leverage MSD's unsurpassed brand strength among performance enthusiasts."

Based in San Francisco, Gryphon Investors focuses on leveraged acquisitions and growth investments in middle market companies in partnership with experienced management. With more than $500 million of committed equity capital under management, Gryphon typically seeks to invest $25 to $75 million of its own capital in companies with sales ranging from $25 to $250 million. The firm is currently completing the investment of its second fund, Gryphon Partners II, LP. Gryphon prioritizes investment opportunities where it can form proactive partnerships with owners and executives to build leading companies, utilizing Gryphon's capital, professional resources and significant financial and operational experience.
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Publication:Business Wire
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 8, 2004
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