Sunday, July 27, 2003

What's the Buzz?

Investment firm acquires Escort

By Mike Boyer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Escort Inc., the West Chester maker of radar detectors and other automotive consumer electronics, has new ownership.

American Capital Strategies Ltd., a publicly traded investment firm, has acquired majority ownership in the company from Chicago entrepreneur Matthew Coleman for $42 million.

R. Gregory Blair, Escort president and CEO, retains about a third of the recapitalized company.

Coleman acquired the assets of the former Cincinnati Microwave Inc. out of bankruptcy reorganization in 1997 and formed Escort Inc. to make and market the company's radar and laser detectors.

In 1999, Escort acquired the assets of Canadian-based Beltronics, a rival radar detector manufacturer.

The company employs 75 in West Chester and another 170 in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.

The Escort investment "reflects our longstanding expertise in supporting the growth of niche manufacturers," said Ira Wagner, American Capital's chief operating officer.

Blair, named Ernst & Young's entrepreneur of the year in 2002, said other Escort employees will be investing in the company.

He said American Capital, which has invested $700 million in a variety of midsize companies, will provide Escort capital for growth including possible acquisitions.

Escort recently expanded into the market for vehicle performance computers.

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