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Bob Lee has severed his final ties to the company he helped found.
Lee confirmed to RV Business late Wednesday (Jan. 10) that he sold his 577,906 shares of National RV Holdings Inc. stock on Friday, Jan. 5, for an average price of $3.50 per share.
“I don’t know who bought it. I put it on the market and let it go,” he said.
Lee said he sold his National RV stock because “I didn’t think it (the company) would go anywhere…I won’t have to worry about it on a day-to-day basis anymore,” he said.
National RV Holdings posted losses in 17 of the last 21 quarters and has negotiated a sale of its real estate at the company’s headquarters in Perris, Calif., to generate much needed cash. National RV Holdings is parent to National RV Inc., with operations in Perris, and Junction City, Ore.-based Country Coach Inc., the company Lee founded.
Rumors of Lee’s stock sale surfaced early this week but were not confirmed by the Securities and Exchange Commission as of Wednesday afternoon.
National RV executives had heard the rumor, too, but there were no conversations with Lee and they were in the dark as to its veracity. They were aware that nearly 600,000 shares traded hands on Friday, however, and surmised that it might be Lee’s holdings. Average daily trading of the company’s stock is well below 30,000 shares.
Until receiving official notification, the company deferred any formal comment.
“Until we can confirm it, we would have no response. It is what it is, a rumor,” said Tom Martini, CFO of National RV Holdings.
Although Lee is no longer on the National RV Holdings board, he was still the fifth-largest shareholder with 5.6% of all the outstanding shares
There was speculation that Los Angeles investment banker Bryant R. Riley, who owns or controls 1,199,383 shares or 11.6% of National RV Holdings’ outstanding shares as of Nov. 30, was the buyer of Lee’s stock.
“That’s possible,” Lee said, but he added that he had not talked with Riley about the sale. A call to Bryant’s office in Los Angeles was not returned.
Lee’s stock sale ends a long and sometimes combative relationship with National RV Holdings. In November 2005, Lee and Riley launched an unsuccessful bid to buy the company. In August, Lee resigned from the board, saying the company’s leaders had refused to deal with “the ongoing crisis” that “threatens the very future of this company,” and that it was time for CEO Brad Albrechtsen to resign.
Lee founded Country Camper in 1973 with two employees out of a 2,000-square-foot building in Junction City. By the early 1990s, the company had become a national player in the luxury motor coach market.
In 1996, Lee sold Country Coach to National RV Holdings for $9 million in stock and the assumption of $10.1 million in Country Coach debt. Lee stayed on as CEO after the sale. He retired in 2000, but returned in 2002 to turn around the Country Coach division. He stepped down as CEO in 2004 and continued as a paid consultant until May 2005.
Lee acquired additional shares of the company as a result of grants of stock options received over the course of his service as an executive, employee and consultant of the company.
He served on the board of National RV Holdings from 1998 until leaving in last August.
In November, Lee revealed that he had agreed to serve as chairman of Western Recreational Vehicles (WRV), maker of high-end motorhomes and trailers based in Yakima, Wash., after Monomoy Capital Partners LP announced it agreed to acquire the company.
Lee said Wednesday he has been busy getting WRV up and running and shipping product. The company makes Class A motorhomes under the Alpine Coach brand, and Alpenlite fifth-wheels and truck campers.