RV maker Winnebago gets into boating with Chris-Craft buy

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Recreational vehicle manufacturer Winnebago Industries says it is buying boat maker Chris-Craft to expand beyond motor homes and travel trailers and create a diversified outdoor lifestyle products company.

Winnebago, based in Forest City, Iowa, hasn’t disclosed details of the transaction but said Monday it would finance the deal with cash and debt.

Chris-Craft is a recreational boating brand dating back to 1874. It’s been owned by London-based investment firm Stellican Ltd. since 2001.

Winnebago CEO Michael Happe says he sees a significant intersection between the RV and marine lifestyles and views the boat business as a natural addition to its existing outdoor recreation portfolio, with similar customer demographics and ownership crossover.

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Stephen Heese will stay on as Chris-Craft president and Winnebago expects to maintain the boat manufacturer’s Sarasota, Florida headquarters.