Reuters Exclusive: Feinberg of Cerberus Explores Bid for Bushmaster Gunmaker

(Reuters) – Private equity mogul Stephen Feinberg is exploring a bid for Freedom Group, the Bushmaster rifle manufacturer that his firm, Cerberus Capital Management LP, put up for sale after one of its guns was used in a Connecticut school shooting late last year, three people familiar with the situation said on Tuesday.

Feinberg, along with other senior Cerberus partners, is putting together a consortium to make a “stalking horse” offer, or the floor bid, for Freedom Group, the sources said.

Feinberg has approached other wealthy individuals to join his group, the people said, who declined to be named because the auction is private.

Cerberus declined to comment and declined to make Feinberg available for an interview, while representatives of Freedom Group could not be reached for comment.

Freedom Group’s AR-15 type Bushmaster rifle was used in the Newtown, Connecticut shootings in December, which left 20 children and six adults dead. Cerberus came under mounting pressure from the public as well as investors in its funds after the shootings to sell Freedom Group.

Soon after the shootings, Cerberus said it would look for a buyer and hired investment bank Lazard Ltd to help sell the business.

Lazard declined to comment.

By Olivia Oran, Greg Roumeliotis and Martinne Geller, Reuters

(Editing by Soyoung Kim, Paritosh Bansal and Chris Gallagher, Reuters)

Photo: A New Haven police officer dismantles a Bushmaster semi-automatic assault rifle after it was turned in during a gun buyback event at the New Haven Police Academy in New Haven, Connecticut, Dec. 22, 2012. REUTERS/ Michelle McLoughlin