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Navistar To Buy Monaco Coach RV Assets

Engine maker said Thursday it has signed a nonbinding letter of intent buy Monaco Coach Corp.'s recreational vehicle manufacturing business.

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Navistar International Corp. said Thursday it has signed a nonbinding letter of intent buy Monaco Coach Corp.'s recreational vehicle manufacturing business.

The announcements from the two companies did not mention a price for the deal. But they followed a filing in federal bankruptcy court by Monaco that said the company had a $50 million deal to sell its core business in the works.

Navistar, based in Warrenville, Ill., builds engines, school buses and trucks. Coburg-based Monaco filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this month amid a plunge in RV sales.

The two companies said they planned to work toward a purchase agreement by mid-April.

Earlier, Monaco said that if the offer went through, "jobs would be preserved for the local communities so heavily affected by the (company's) current circumstances and certain creditors would be benefited by the continuation of (its) business lines," according to court documents.

Monaco filed for bankruptcy protection March 5. The company is continuing to operate, although its stock has been delisted.

In a statement about the Navistar deal, it said it expected the Monaco brand to continue, and it would continue trying to sell its resort and other assets.

Monaco is one of two major RV makers to file for bankruptcy in recent weeks. RV and manufactured housing maker Fleetwood Enterprises Inc., based in Riverside, Calif., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on March 10.

Remaining publicly traded RV companies include Winnebago Industries Inc., Thor Industries Inc. and Coachman Industries Inc. In addition, RV maker Forest River is held by Berkshire Hathaway Inc., the public firm owned by investor Warren Buffett.

Last week, Winnebago said it lost $10.4 million in its fiscal second quarter, while its revenue fell more than 80 percent.

RV sales have plunged over the last year, as strapped consumers have stopped buying the highly discretionary, gas-swilling vehicles. In 2008, RV shipments fell 33 percent, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association. In January alone, sales plunged more than 70 percent.

Associated Press Writers Dan Strumpf in New York and Randall Chase in Wilmington, Del., contributed to this report.

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