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Fortune Industries founder, chairman dies

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Carter M. Fortune, founder and chairman of Indianapolis-based Fortune Industries Inc., has died, the company announced Monday.

Fortune, 70, died Saturday at his home in Destin, Fla.

“We are very saddened by Carter’s passing, but we are prepared to move forward, carry out his vision and honor his legacy,” Tena Mayberry, president and CEO of the professional employer organization, said in a prepared statement.

Fortune, majority shareholder of the publicly traded Fortune Industries, had been diagnosed with a potentially terminal disease, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing released earlier this year.

The company disclosed the illness as Fortune worked on a sale of the business to CEP Inc., a holding company led by Fortune Industries CEO Tena Mayberry and Chief Financial Officer Randy Butler. The planned management-led buyout, which would result in the business going private, values the company at $30.5 million.  

Whether Fortune's death will have an impact on that deal is unclear. Calls to the company Tuesday morning were not returned.

The transaction had faced a challenge from a shareholder who filed suit against the company, attempting to block the deal, but that lawsuit was dropped Aug. 20.

The beginnings of Fortune Industries can be traced to 2000, when Carter Fortune and partners bought the shell of a public company, renamed it WOW Entertainment Inc., and began producing “Women of Wrestling” for television.

After that business failed, he began buying companies in fields such as personnel-related services, manufacturing and distribution. The company sold off everything but the human resources business more than three years ago.
 

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