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In its effort to acquire Coachmen Industries Inc., Thor Industries Inc. is using a technique known on Wall Street as a “bear hug.”

And the embrace grew tighter today.

Thor, which owns 3% of Coachmen’s stock, or 466,300 shares, is asking all other Coachmen shareholders to withhold their votes for the nominees for election to the Coachmen Board of Directors on May 4.

Thor Chairman Wade F.B. Thompson, in a letter released to the public today, believes withholding votes would send a message to Coachmen management that it should agree to a merger with Thor.

He also is asking Coachmen shareholders to vote against a stock incentive plan, which would make 1 million shares available to Coachmen executives.

Thompson wrote that he was reluctant to publicly reveal his Coachmen takeover plan but he did so “because of Coachmen’s unwillingness to enter into discussions with us about a mutually beneficial merger.”

Thor’s $18 a share blended cash and stock offer gives Coachmen shareholders a 42% premium, when based upon the closing price for Coachmen stock last Friday. And because Coachmen shareholders also would get Thor shares, they would have “further opportunities for long term value enhancement,” Thompson wrote.