> SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE! 

Thor Industries Inc. fired the first salvo this morning in what could turn out to be a battle to buy Elkhart, Ind.-based Coachmen Industries Inc.

In a statement issued at 10:15 a.m. Eastern Time today, the Jackson Center, Ohio-based Thor announced it is offering $18 for each share of Coachmen stock.

Coachmen stock closed at $12.69 on Friday, so Thor is offering a 42% premium to Coachmen shareholders, according to Wade F.B. Thompson, Thor’s chairman.

The $18 a share offer would consist of 60% cash and 40% Thor stock, based on Friday’s closing price for Thor shares, which was $24.44.

Thor and Coachmen shares did not trade on the New York Stock Exchange this morning because of the news about the possible combination of the two firms.

As of 11 a.m. Eastern Time today, Coachmen Chairman and CEO Claire Skinner had not responded to Thor’s offer.

In his letter to Skinner, which Thompson revealed publicly today, Thompson wrote that he hopes the merger could be completed as “a friendly transaction.”

However, Thompson also stated that Thor executives had several discussions with Coachmen management during the last few months and that “we (Thor) fail to understand why, despite our repeated requests, your (Coachmen’s) board will not negotiate with Thor concerning the transaction.”