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Compass lays groundwork for taking Fox public

Published July 9, 2013

WESTPORT, CT (BRAIN) — The owners of the Fox suspension brand are laying the groundwork for taking the company public.

Compass Diversified Holdings, which also owns CamelBak, on Monday filed an S-1 registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a proposed initial public offering of Fox's common stock.

The preliminary prospectus is not available yet, nor has the number of shares or their price range been determined. A prospectus, when released, would reveal Compass's plans for the brand and outline its potential growth areas and liabilities.

Fox designs, makes and markets suspension products for mountain bikes, side-by-side vehicles, off-road vehicles and trucks, ATVs, snowmobiles and motorcycles.

According to the most recent quarterly report from Compass, Fox saw revenue rise 20 percent to $55 million and EBITDA leap 38 percent in the first quarter. The Fox division is the largest of Compass' eight business segments (CamelBak is the second largest, with sales of $43 million in the first quarter; Compass sales in the quarter totaled $240 million).

In a conference call with investors last month, company officials noted that Fox had successfully established a bicycle suspension manufacturing facility in Taiwan in the last year. They said the Taiwan facility offered labor cost savings but, more importantly, was closer to Taiwan's bike manufacturers. About 80 percent of Fox' sales are to OEM bike manufacturers.

The Fox brand dates to 1974 when it was founded by brothers Bob and Geoff Fox in Watsonville, California. In the late 1970s, the brand was split into two independent companies, with Bob Fox leading the Fox suspension company, Fox Racing Shox (whose logo features a fox tail), and Geoff Fox leading the action sports clothing company, Fox Head (with a fox head logo).

Compass acquired the suspension brand in 2008. Fox Head remains an independent, family-owned business based in Irvine, California.

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