Bowers and Merena Auctions’ purchase of world coin firm Ponterio & Associates for an undisclosed price was announced Dec. 11, two days after the deal was inked.
Rick Ponterio, founder of the firm that has borne his name for 26 years, will relocate at the end of January to Irvine, Calif., from his present location in San Diego to begin the integration process and to assist in the management of Bowers and Merena.
Greg Roberts, president and CEO of Spectrum Numismatics, the parent firm of B&M, said the genesis of the deal began some months ago.
“Rick is a good friend of mine and I have known him probably for over 10 years now.,” Roberts said. “He is in an area of the market that we look at as a growth area for us, ancient and world coins.”
Roberts said they had a conversation six or eight months ago about strategic relationships and it just kept building.
“It became obvious that there was a natural fit,” he explained. “Our goal being to continue to beef up and grow our three auctions a year at the Baltimore coin show.” These auctions have been primarily U.S. coins and paper money.
The Ponterio name will eventually be retired, but for a time there will be joint marketing.
“We believe Bowers and Merena will be the surviving brand,” Roberts explained.
That doesn’t mean that Ponterio, who is 61, plans to retire.
“I love my work. I look forward to going to work every day,” Ponterio said. “I love dealing with my clients.”
Roberts praised Ponterio’s expertise and that of his two sons, Kent, 33, and Kyle, 28, who both will be joining the firm as well.
“We needed a top line expert,” Roberts said. “Rick and his sons are those people.”
With the acquisition now accomplished, Roberts looks to future growth prospects.
“We believe there is a lot of business. The ultimate parent of Bowers and Merena and Spectrum has offices in four countries all around the world. We will be able to expand Rick’s business in Hong Kong, Germany and Switzerland,” Roberts said.
Another reason for the sale, according to Ponterio, was the strong Internet reach of Bowers and Merena.
“Our Internet reach is very strong,” Roberts said. “We want to use that strength of Bowers to reach out and do more business.”
“Bowers and Merena was a perfect fit for my company,” he said, citing the IT infrastructure of the firm.
“I believe in order to expand and compete in today’s market, those are necessary,” Ponterio said.
Ponterio is in a busy period. His next sale is Jan 9-10, 2009, in New York City in conjunction with the New International Numismatic Convention. He called it his flagship auction.
He will also conduct an April auction at the Chicago International Coin Fair and add to the world component of Baltimore auctions, though, “That will be dependent on the flow of consignments.”
Looking ahead to future world auctions, Ponterio said, “I would estimate anywhere from four to six. We could conceivably do more than six.” He added that he didn’t want to reveal all of the firm’s plans. He said that Bowers and Merena will call both American Numismatic Association convention auctions in 2009.
Commenting on the state of the market going forward, Roberts was optimistic about the prospects for the next five to seven years.
About the next six-12 months, he said, “We’re going to suffer like everybody else a little bit in that you can’t get the negative feeling of the economy out of people’s minds right now whether they are buying $50 coins or $50,000 coins.”
But the latter comment was less a focus than a passing observation.
Right now, Roberts said, “We’re going to welcome Rick’s customers into our family.”