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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Wall Street Inside Info: Ohio Defense Contractor Plans IPO

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- This isn't quite the kind of whispered tip that lands wheeler-dealers in hot water with the Securities and Exchange Commission. But Wall Street watchers should really start focusing on The O'Gara Group Inc., a small defense contractor in Ohio that is bulging up its bottom line with anti-terrorism contracts from the Pentagon, Italy and the British government. Right now, the company is privately held. But the suburban Cincinnati firm has made plans to go public next year, a bit of inside information that popped out in a U.S. District Court lawsuit recently obtained by The Daily Bellwether.

The case is 1:06-cv-799, Southern District of Ohio. O'Gara is in a dispute with an Irvine, Cal., computer software supplier that sold it financial, accounting and order processing data-management software. The defense contractor wanted to consolidate and centrally manage those functions because it has subsidiary operations, and because it has been growing. Paragraph 14 of the complaint discloses the IPO plans:

''14. O'Gara considered it important to implement financial software to achieve this consolidation to ensure compliance with the requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in connection with its anticipated initial public offering for early 2007. As part of its search for an appropriate software solution, O'Gara submitted a request for proposal [to the California supplier]."

O'Gara's lawyers are Russell S. Sayre and Katherine A. Ruwe of Taft, Stettinius & Hollister LLP in Cincinnati. The California software firm is represented by Grant S. Cowan, of Frost Brown Todd LLC, also in Cincinnati.

O'Gara's manufacturing plant in Beavercreek near Dayton makes night vision goggles that are used by anti-terrorism forces in many nations. It also has a unit that conducts training in how to protect against security threats. The company says it was established to build a global enterprise for counter-terrorism, low-intensity conflict and homeland security. Its founders include Thomas O'Gara, who once chaired O'Gara-Hess & Eisenhardt Armoring Co., which is now owned by a Jacksonville defense contractor whose Fairfield, Oh., unit armors Humvees used by the military for the War in Iraq.

O'Gara said recently that the United Kingdom Ministry of Defense had agreed to buy $6.4 million of advanced night vision goggles made in Ohio. "International orders have increased as a result of higher demand and a greater international marketing effort in 2006," the company said, adding it expect new orders ''from other European and NATO countries. The order from the UK ministry of defense will be delivered through 2007."

There's more here where the company talks about its operations and its principals, but there's not a hint about the planned IPO.

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