Know how you HATE going into Guitar Center because you can’t pick up a goddamned thing without the ponytailed, tatted-up floor-rep who’s “only doing this as a day-job while his band looks for a new drummer so they can finish their demo in their other guitarist’s friend’s dad’s home-studio and send it to their bassist’s dad’s cousin’s boss because he works in A&R?” locking onto you like a fuckin’ heat-seeker (a rather carbuncular heat-seeker, mind you) and trying like Rocky Balboa to stick you with the biggest, most expensive sale that he possibly can??
Welp, Private Equity Firm Bain Capital Partners LLC must have made one scraggly salesman into the happiest Metallica fan since The Black Album when it waltzed into the mammoth maze of Marshal Amps and announced, amid the din of choppy, awkward “Brainstew” and “Come as You Are” riffs, that they’d take... EVERYTHING!
Yes, much to the surprise of... well... I don’t know who... business nerds who actually keep track of this kind of shit, I guess... anyway, much to the surprise of SOMEONE SOMEWHERE, the private firm purchased the entire musical instrument empire, known professionally as Guitar Center Inc., for roughly $1.9 billion plus assumed debt earlier last week (that debt presumably refers to all of those financed Flying V’s, China Cymbals, and Line 6 Amplifiers that haven’t been paid off yet). The total value of the transaction, expected to close in the fourth quarter, is approximately $2.1 billion, which the company will promptly put on its dad and step-mom’s MasterCard as soon as they provide Guitar Center with a phone number and zip code.
Under the terms of this deal (don’t worry; they have deals EVERY weekend), Guitar Center stockholders will receive $63 in cash per share, marking a 26% premium over its closing price this past Tuesday. Guitar Center shares were up 18.8% or $9.44 at $59.50 on the NASDAQ after hitting a high of $60.35 earlier in the session...
HUH? WHA? Uh... oh yeah, and according to Billboard.com, as of March 31, the company had 30.17 million diluted shares outstanding, as reported in its first-quarter earnings report. In May, there was some talk ‘round the financial schoolyard that Guitar Center was exploring a possible sale. Once they realized they couldn’t sell to themselves because of the shitty deal they’d probably get on the trade-in, they hired an investment bank to explore strategic alternatives.
Credit Suisse Analyst Gary Balter said the company "seems like the perfect LBO." (Shhh! No dude, I don’t know what that means either. Just act cool...) "They have a dominant retail position in a high service business yet significantly under-earn other high service oriented retail segments," Balter wrote in a research note following Guitar Center's announcement.
Balter also added he would not be surprised if the company's Music & Arts division, specializing in band instruments for teachers, band directors, and students, is sold after the current deal is closed. But then again, one wonders if a man whose job is “Credit Suisse Analyst” is ever really surprised by anything.
But enough talk, kids. What does this all mean for YOU, the Guitar Center Consumer/St. Anger Enthusiast? Well, don’t worry, you’ll still hear all of those sweet radio ads, and you’ll still be able to get hustled into purchasing all of the kick-dick gear you need to get that gig opening for Finger 11. Sure, the music store might be privately owned by “The Man” now, but Rock ‘n’ Roll can NEVER DIE.
Hey, Hey. My, my.