FORTUNE — Private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management announced early this morning that it plans to sell Freedom Group, a firearms conglomerate that produced the .223 Bushmaster rifle used in last week’s elementary school massacre.
Here is the firm’s statement, in full:
To be clear, this is not a financial decision by Cerberus.
Freedom Group’s value today is artificially low, judging by the plunging stock prices of publicly-traded gun makers like Smith & Wesson (SWHC) and Sturm Ruger & Co. (RGR). Moreover, it’s difficult to imagine that another private equity firm would agree to buy the company from Cerberus — which had tried to take Freedom Group public several years back, but was stymied by weakening sales and management shakeups. My best guess is that a foreign firearms company will be the eventual buyer at a major discount.
What we still don’t know if what pressure, if any, Cerberus limited partners brought to bear on the firm since last Friday. Yesterday we reported that one of the largest investors in Cerberus private equity funds was the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, which subsequently said it would review its indirect investment in Freedom Group (it made no such pledge following the Aurora shooting, where a Bushmaster rifle also was used).
Truth is, however, an LP like CalSTRS really can’t do much after the original fund commitment is made, save for a secondary sale of its entire fund stake (which is why I argued it should have been proactive, rather than reactive). Unless, of course, it and others helped prod Cerberus into this morning’s decision — reminding the firm that they sometimes want their fund managers to focus more on the sense than the dollars.
Update: Bloomberg is reporting that the father of Cerberus founder and CEO Stephen Feinberg is a resident of Newtown, Connecticut. No word yet on if this factored into the firm’s decision-making process…
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