Piper’s new owner sees ‘significant potential’

Piper Aircraft‘s most recent owner, American Capital, has sold its entire stake in the iconic, 72-year old company to Imprimis, a corporate finance and investment management firm operating from offices in Bangkok, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam, Piper announced on May 1. The new owners have pledged to keep Piper’s headquarters, production and product development facilities at Vero Beach.

American Capital acquired the majority of Piper by assuming $57 million of senior debt discounted to $34 million in July of 2003. The company did not disclose how much Imprimis paid.

Imprimis intends to invest “significant capital” in Piper’s current operations to strengthen its position in the general aviation market and to support development of key new products, such as the PiperJet. According to the company’s news release, Imprimis was drawn to Piper because of significant potential it sees for Piper to expand its activities into new markets in the Asia Pacific region, expected to experience steady growth for two- to six-seat aircraft over the next five years, in part due to shifting demographics and increasing demand for pilot training from training schools and flying clubs, the release said.

“Imprimis brings a level of support that will propel Piper from its current status as a company with a strong heritage, track record of innovation and great potential to one that is growing and pushing the envelope within general aviation,” said Piper president and CEO James Bass. Imprimis managing partner Stephen Berger said his company had been looking to invest in an aviation company “with a proven track record of prospering in the face of serious challenges” for some time. Berger pointed to Piper’s track record, and to the respect the company enjoys within the general aviation industry, as being among the primary reasons to acquire Piper.

“Piper’s capabilities, its excellent dealer family and extensive customer base, coupled with Imprimis’ capability to provide financial support, our dedication to growing the companies we invest in and our contacts within Asia provide fertile ground for Piper to expand its business in the Asian market and throughout the world,” Berger said. Imprimis sees this acquisition as a perfect fit as we develop plans for Piper’s continued growth in its existing markets and for significant expansion within the Asian markets where much of our focus lies.”

One of three major U.S. manufacturers of general aviation aircraft, Piper currently manufactures seven models: the Warrior III, Arrow, Seminole, Seneca V, Matrix, Mirage and Meridian; and is developing the PiperJet.

To read the news release: http://www.prnewswire.com/mnr/piper/38218/

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