Sunbeam buys First Alert

Sunbeam Corp., Miami, Fla., announced plans to buy First Alert, Inc., Aurora, Ill., a manufacturer of smoke alarms and other residential safety equipment, in an acquisition valued at about $175 million, which includes the assumption of existing debt. Sunbeam at the same time also announced plans to buy outdoor recreation and hardware manufacturer Coleman Co. and Signature Brands USA, Inc., which makes Mr. Coffee coffemakers and other products. The total of the three purchases would be nearly $2.5 billion.

The acquisition of Coleman Co. by Sunbeam comes just weeks after Coleman sold its Safety & Security Products division, which makes smoke alarms, thermostats and carbon monoxide detectors, to Siebe PLC, Windsor, England, for $105 million. The sale of Coleman Safety & Security Products appears to have been timed to occur before the Sunbeam acquisition.

Manufacturers' reps who represent BRK Brands said they are not overly concerned about Sunbeam purchasing First Alert because Sunbeam does not currently have a presence in the electrical distributor end of the business.

"If I were a retail or do-it-yourself rep, I'd probably be a little bit concerned because Sunbeam has got a network for that," said Jim Amey, principal of Robert A. Amey Co., Inc., Portland, Ore.

The future for the headquarters operations of First Alert, Coleman and Signature Brands USA is uncertain. Dunlap has said the acquired companies will join existing Sunbeam units: Coleman will become part of Sunbeam's grill business; Signature Brands will join the appliance business; and First Alert will join the health and safety products.

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