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Czech company to acquire Colt

CZG previously revealed plan for $90M factory at LR port by DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS | February 13, 2021 at 1:56 a.m.
Samuel Colt’s No. 5 holster pistol is displayed in 2006 at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Conn. Czech firearms company Ceska Zbrojovka plans to acquire American gun-maker Colt in a deal worth $220 million. (AP)

PRAGUE -- Czech firearms company Ceska Zbrojovka has signed a deal to acquire Colt, the American gun-maker that helped develop revolvers in the 19th century and has since supplied the armed forces in the U.S. and other countries.

Ceska Zbrojovka Group SE said Friday that it has purchased all the shares in Colt Holding Company LLC, the parent company of Colt Manufacturing Co. LLC and its Canadian subsidiary, Colt Canada Corp.

The deal is worth $220 million and 1,098,620 newly issued shares in Ceska Zbrojovka and is subject to approval by regulators. The Czech company said it expected the transaction to be completed in the second quarter of 2021.

"With this strategic move, CZG will acquire significant production capacity in the United States and Canada and substantially expand its global customer base," the Czech company said.

The company has about 1,650 workers in the Czech Republic, United States and Germany.

In April 2019, CZ-USA, Ceska Zbrojovka's American subsidiary, announced a plan to build a factory at the Port of Little Rock, a $90 million investment that would reportedly create nearly 600 jobs within six years.

Construction of the facility on a 73-acre site at the port has not started. The facility would also serve as Ceska Zbrojovka's North American headquarters, CZ-USA said.

Bryan Day, the port's executive director, said he remains confident CZ-USA is still coming to the port.

"We are in constant contact with CZ and they are still planning to build at the Port," Day said in an email. "I do know the global pandemic has complicated their efforts, but I have no reason to believe they are not coming."

Colt filed for bankruptcy protection in 2015. The decline of the company was fueled by missteps with gun owners, a misreading of the police firearms market and a fall in gun sales to the public, analysts and industry observers said at the time.

A major blow was falling revenue from government contracts, which Moody's Investor Service said dropped to less than 10% of sales from 60% in 2009. Colt lost a U.S. military contract for the M4 carbine in 2013 to Remington, although the contract went to F.N. Herstal of Belgium after a dispute between Colt and Remington.

Colt exited bankruptcy in 2016.

Samuel Colt, who patented the first commercially successful revolving cylinder firearm in 1836, began supplying U.S. and international military customers with guns in 1847. Ceska Zbrojovka has been in operation for 83 years.

If CZ-USA's factory in Little Rock is built, the company will join a number of custom firearms-makers operating in Arkansas.

In Fort Smith are Umarex USA and Walther Arms, both under the umbrella of Arnsberg, Germany-based PW Group. The parent company of Daisy Outdoor Products -- Gamo Outdoor USA -- moved its U.S. headquarters to Rogers a few years ago and expanded the facility there.

Custom gun-makers Wilson Combat and Nighthawk Custom operate in Berryville.

Information for this article was contributed by The Associated Press and by Noel Oman of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

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