Last Friday’s offer by American Industrial Partners LP for a portion of the motorhome operations of Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. is “very preliminary” and “not a done deal,” a Fleetwood spokeswoman stressed on Monday (May 18).

First reported in the Dow Jones Daily Bankruptcy Review, New York-based private equity firm AIP has offered $53 million for most of the company’s motorhome business — including five plants in Decatur, Ind. and all of its motorhome brands, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

What isn’t included in the deal is the company’s manufacturing location in Riverside or any of its closed travel trailer plants. Fleetwood has also been attempting to sell its manufactured housing division.

Fleetwood has asked the court to approve an auction that would set American Industrial’s offer as the minimum bid.

In the filings Friday (May 15), American Industrial’s bid was described by a Fleetwood investment consultant as a “reasonable purchase price.”

The equity firm doesn’t run the day-to-day operations of companies it buys, and focuses on buying mid-size industrial companies that it can streamline, according to information on its website.

But much remains to fall into place to make the sale happen, stressed Heather Everett, public relations manager for Fleetwood’s RV group. Fleetwood has not “inked a deal,” as the Dow Jones publication first stated in its headline, she told RVBusiness. And the proposed sale still has some hoops to jump through.

If Fleetwood’s auction proposal is approved by the court at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, initial bids would be accepted until June 18 and the auction would take place June 22, with American Industrial’s bid the one to beat.

Fleetwood started trying to sell its RV and manufactured housing businesses Feb. 6, before it filed for bankruptcy March 10. Fleetwood contacted or heard from more than 75 companies since then. Of those, 10 met with management or visited Fleetwood’s operations.

Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. has $20.7 million in assets compared to at least $265.2 million worth of debts, according to recent financial filings the company has made in bankruptcy court. Of that, at least $183 million is money owed to unsecured creditors.

The RV and manufactured homebuilder filed for bankruptcy March 10 but hadn’t filed a comprehensive list of debts and assets until now.

Fleetwood remained the country’s largest manufacturer of Class A motorhomes in 2008, accounting for 18.6% of the market share, according to industry results from Statistical Surveys Inc. The company held a 20.4% market share the year prior.