Flow International, a Kent manufacturer of water-jet equipment for cutting and other industrial applications, has agreed to be acquired for $4.05 a share in cash by private equity firm American Industrial Partners.
The company — whose equipment cuts carbon-fiber composite plastic for both Boeing’s 787 and Airbus’ A350, among many other uses — said in June it would consider a sale after once again coming under pressure from some shareholders to boost the stock price.
Otter Creek Partners, a Florida hedge fund that owned 5.1 percent of Flow at the time, in March blasted the company and CEO Charles Brown, complaining of Flow’s “abysmal performance” while he led a “strange and quixotic journey to reframe the company as some sort of 1990s hot technology-growth entity.”
The approximately $200 million cash transaction, approved by its board, represents a modest 8.6 percent premium over the company’s Wednesday closing price of $3.73.
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American Industrial Partners describes itself as a middle-market private equity firm focused on industrial businesses with North American headquarters.
Flow, which has been publicly traded since the 1980s, in June said it would cut operating costs about 10 percent but did not disclose what layoffs that might involve. As of April 30 it had 680 employees, two-thirds of them in the U.S., according to regulatory filings.
Flow shares have been trading between $4.03 and $2.93 during the past year.