Harbinger Group has been zapping its former image as an oil and gas company and is on the lookout to pump up its portfolio. The holding company has some $400 million to make investments across a diverse array of industries. Harbinger Group makes most of its revenue from the sale of branded consumer products, such as residential locksets, shaving and grooming products, household appliances, and insect repellents. It also deals in life insurance and annuities, provides asset-backed loans, and owns energy assets. Former US President George H. W. Bush co-founded the company as Zapata in 1953. Hedge fund Harbinger Capital Partners has owned a controlling stake in Harbinger Group since 2009.
New York-based Harbinger Group enjoys a global reach, with operations in North America, Latin America, and Europe.
Harbinger Group operates through four segments: Consumer Products (Spectrum Brands, 74% of fiscal 2013 revenue), Insurance (FGL and Front Street Re, Ltd., 23% of revenue), Energy (EXCO/HGI JV, 2% of revenue), and Financial Services (1% of revenue).
Harbinger Group has seen its revenues rise during the past several years due to organic growth and growth through acquisitions.
The company logged increases of 24% to $5.5 billion in fiscal 2013 due to success across its portfolio. Its primary Consumer Products segment made a hardware acquisition, it realized gains on the sales of fixed maturity securities in its Insurance segment, formed the EXCO/HGI JV, and secured new business in both its Energy and Financial Services segments. The increases were offset, however, by net losses spurred by its legacy oil and gas properties and from financing the acquisition by Spectrum Brands, among other items.
Harbinger Group works to acquire operating businesses across a range of industries, such as consumer products, insurance and financial products, telecommunications, agriculture, power generation, and water and natural resources.
Harbinger Group acquired a majority interest in consumer goods firm Spectrum Brands in 2011. Spectrum Brands expanded its business in 2012 by acquiring the residential hardware and home improvement business of Stanley Black & Decker. The move gave the consumer products company additional brands names such as Kwikset, Weiser, Baldwin, and National Hardware. It also purchased certain assets of Tong Lung Metal Industry Co. Ltd., a Taiwan company that specializes in producing residential locks, in 2013.
The company purchased Old Mutual U.S. Life Holdings from Old Mutual for $350 million, rebranding them as Fidelity & Guaranty Life Insurance Company and Fidelity & Guaranty Life Insurance Company of New York. Harbinger Group then acquired a minority stake in North American Energy Partners, which primarily provides construction and pipeline services to the Canadian oil sands market.
Harbinger Group also owns almost all of Zap.Com Corporation; however, it is a public shell company with no business operations. Zap.Com is seeking investments or it may develop a new business so that it can become an operating company.
Sales and Marketing
The company spends regularly on advertising. In fiscal 2013, it incurred $23 million in advertising costs, up from $20.7 million in 2012.
Under its former name, Zapata Corporation, the company sold its energy businesses in the 1990s and became a producer of marine protein through its holdings in Omega Protein. Omega's facilities suffered major hurricane damage in 2005, and Zapata sold Omega the next year.