I have enormous respect for your fly fishing knowledge/experience. I love this forum; it’s: highly active; well moderated; and a marvelous resource for reliable information.
On the topic of ABU Feralite match rods, I respectfully disagree with your analysis. That is not to say I disagree with your analysis of ABU Feralite fly rods. Your arguments have a high probability of being correct, however, facts on the ground (so to speak) are needed to verify them. There are alternatives that also have a reasonable probability of being correct.
Before I leave this thread peaceably (teehee), I request the opportunity to reply to a few of your comments.
1) “Fenwick could have produced the blanks”.
Tony Perrin: “We named the rod ‘Mark 5 Zoom’ (after all it did take 5 attempts by Lerc!).”
Match rods are a highly specialized, competitive fishing tool. As an American, I only know a little about match fishing because I purchased from a company in the late 80s that ultimately failed in importing match items to the US. I used my match rod in a superficial way to catch panfish.
Match fishing drew huge crowds. I recall several photos; enjoy the image below.
2) “Fenwick didn't produce match rods, but they did make long mooching rods and surf rods. They could easily produce match blanks with their equipment.”
No to easily (see 1 above). Mooching and surf rods are not at all like match rods.
3) “I feel the simplest explanation is ABU purchased blanks from Fenwick.”
It’s not always about easy. There are other considerations, such as profit and longterm/geographical market.
But then considering our licensing discussion, is there something easier than royalties going to an actor in TV reruns?