Riverside In Talks To Purchase Electronics Biz

Target: Sencore Inc.

Sponsor: The Riverside Co.

Seller: Alan Bowden

The Riverside Company is in talks to buy Sencore Inc., a Sioux Falls, S.D.-based electronics company, according to a government filing and a source with knowledge of the talks.

Sencore makes measuring instruments used in troubleshooting by broadcasters, manufacturers of broadcast hardware, video production engineers, cable operators, and retailers of audio and video and audio products. A desire for expansion may explain the motivation of the company, whose roots stretch back to 1951, for selling to or partnering with Riverside. The buyout shop has operations around the world and specializes in building up U.S.-based companies abroad. Sencore states on its Web site that it is “forming global alliances” to stay on top of the industry.

The company employs approximately 200 people in manufacturing, fabrication, engineering, sales, application engineering, accounting and other administrative positions. Herb Bowden, a former television engineer, founded the company after making his first instrument in his garage during evenings, according to the Web site. His son, CEO Alan Bowden, is listed as the seller in the government filing.

Riverside plans to make the investment via Riverside Capital Appreciation Fund V LP, a fund it is currently raising with a target of $900 million. The firm held a third close of $850 million in mid-November, and expects to close the fund in the first quarter of 2009. In June, Riverside made its first deal from the fund, buying ITEL Laboratories, a Jacksonville, Fla.-based company that determines the fair-market replacement value of damaged products. It has since made two other deals with the fund.

The price of the Sencore deal remains unclear, though a source said it is likely in Riverside’s sweet spot of buying companies with purchase prices between $45 million and $70 million. Officials at Riverside and at Bowden’s office declined to comment.