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Mon, Jan 14, 2008

Eclipse Aviation Secures Long-Term Financing Through Agreement with ETIRC

Expanded Partnership Targets Eclipse 500 As The Global Standard for VLJs

Talk about a BIG deal. On Monday, Albuquerque, NM-based planemaker Eclipse Aviation announced it will expand its partnership with European Technology and Investment Research Center (ETIRC) Aviation. Under terms of the deal, Eclipse can take advantage of an equity investment by ETIRC in Eclipse that is "substantially" in excess of $100 million.

Upon completion of its investment, ETIRC will be the single largest shareholder of Eclipse Aviation. ETIRC CEO Roel Pieper (below) has been elected non-executive Chairman of Eclipse Aviation.

ETIRC is currently the exclusive provider of sales, customer service, maintenance support and flight training for the Eclipse 500 in the countries of Eastern Europe, the Russian Federation, the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Republic of Turkey. As ANN reported, the company ordered 180 Eclipse 500s (120 firm orders, 60 options) last May, most of which are for the Turkish market.

Under the new arrangement, ETIRC will add Western Europe and the United Kingdom to its distribution and services area. As a result ETIRC will be the exclusive partner for Eclipse in more than 60 countries.

As part of the agreement, ETIRC plans to establish local assembly of the Eclipse 500 within its expanded region. ETIRC is reportedly in "advanced stages" of discussions for the location of the assembly facility. The City of Ulyanovsk in Russia is the leading candidate at the moment. Further announcements will be made in the next few months.

Interestingly, ETIRC received financial backing for its investment in Eclipse from the Russian government... making the company a truly international concern, though Eclipse CEO Vern Raburn was quick to assert Eclipse isn't going anywhere.

"This is NOT a move of production, and this is NOT outsourcing," Raburn told reporters, adding the company plans to continuing its expansion in Albuquerque. "In fact, we've hired back many of the positions that were laid off last year... and we plan to add over 700 more jobs this year."

"Entrusting the expanded region of Europe to ETIRC in this manner represents a significant acceleration of our business plan," continued Raburn (below). "Expanding our relationship with ETIRC will rapidly increase the impact of the Eclipse 500 in this region and position us to meet the needs of our growing number of customers outside of North America."

"The Eclipse 500 is by far the best value proposition for jet ownership anywhere in the world," added Pieper. "We are pleased to expand our partnership with Eclipse Aviation to further support the volume growth of this intriguing and innovative aircraft. We believe that a close cooperation between our companies will make the Eclipse 500 the global standard for very light jets."

ETIRC Aviation S.a.r.l. is a principal driver of the VLJ industry, creating virtual jet networks for airlines and aviation entrepreneurs. This will provide business communities with affordable, on-demand, point-to-point jet travel that drives productivity. ETIRC Aviation will offer a full range of white-label VLJ services to virtual jet network and jet taxi operators, including a real-time operations system, fleet financing, VLJ leasing, business consultancy, pilots, training programmes and VLJ maintenance centres. ETIRC Aviation is headquartered in Luxembourg and has offices in Moscow, Istanbul and Cyprus.

FMI: www.eclipseaviation.com, www.etirc.com

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