MUSCATINE, Iowa (Dec. 6) — Several months ago Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc. Chairman and CEO Mark Emkes approached Bandag Inc. Chairman and CEO Martin Carver unsolicited to talk about combining their companies, Carver said in an interview.
Carver, 58, said he first told Emkes that Bandag would stay independent, but he did bring the proposition before Bandag´s board of directors. The inquiry from Bridgestone turned out to be serious, Carver said, and the process to sell Bandag began around the time the company announced in June that it would undertake a 15-percent work force reduction by year's end.
"We weren´t looking for this. There wasn´t any catalyst to doing this from our side," Carver said of the pending acquisition.
In the end, Bridgestone made a "deal we couldn't refuse," he said. Without elaborating further, he did say a detailed timeline of the deal will be published in the company's final proxy statement due in January.
Carver also emphasized that competition in the North American retread market — by Goodyear and Michelin North America Inc. in particular — was formidable, but was not a factor in the pending $1.05 billion sale of Bandag to Bridgestone.
"I thought we did pretty well," he said. "(Michelin mascot) Bib is a pretty tough match in the wrestling ring, but now Bib´s gonna have a Sumo wrestler to deal with. We´ll see how that goes."
Once the deal closes late in the first quarter or early second quarter, Carver will have an advisory role with Bandag. He said he has been so focused on getting the deal through that he hasn't thought about or planned his future activities once his company becomes a Bridgestone subsidiary. That said, Carver said he isn´t going to retire and may consider running another business, though not in the rubber industry.
"Business might be one of the things I might do," he said. "I could get involved in other pursuits. I have a very broad array of interests, so I could be doing something academic, I could be doing something creative, or I could be doing all of the above."
Bridgestone has committed to keeping Bandag headquarters in Muscatine, and Emkes visited with employees there Dec. 5 after the merger's announcement, Carver said.