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Thu, Jul 17, 2003

New Piper: Official Statement

We told you about the recapitalization of New Piper's secured debt yesterday; now, we are privy to the company's official statement. Here it is:

The New Piper Aircraft, Inc. announced today [Tuesday] that American Capital Strategies Ltd. has purchased the company's secured bank debt.  Moreover, in an effort to restructure its balance sheet and reduce its debt leverage, New Piper anticipates that a recapitalization of New Piper will occur shortly. American Capital first invested in New Piper in 1998.

"The exceptional leadership of the New Piper management team, the company's strong dealer network and its dedicated and skilled workforce were major factors in deciding to invest additional capital in the company," said American Capital Senior Vice President and Managing Director Gordon O'Brien. 

"We have watched Chuck Suma and his team rebuild New Piper into an innovative leader in general aviation, despite what has been a particularly tough economic climate.  We think New Piper is now poised to become even stronger as the economy - and general aviation, in particular - rebounds."

"The American Capital investment is a major step in the right direction for New Piper," said New Piper President and CEO Chuck Suma (right).  "We have focused on building a committed and talented management team, a strong dealer network, a world-class customer service group and a knowledgeable workforce.  We are now in a position to weather the periodic turbulence in our industry and to continue to develop innovative designs in a systematic fashion, focused on customer expectations."

"For our dealer body, New Piper will be a stronger company with more product offerings and innovations than it would otherwise have been able to produce," continued Suma.  "For our employees, New Piper will be a more forward-looking and stable company.  At the same time, our vendors can look forward to a more robust product development program and the continuation of long-standing strategic relationships.  This will enable us to strengthen our focus: modernizing the aircraft design and manufacturing process. We can now move forward even more effectively, bringing new product innovations to market every six months to a year.  Now that commercial travel is more time consuming than ever, flying a Piper makes more sense than ever."

One of three major U.S. manufacturers of general aviation aircraft, New Piper currently manufactures nine models: the Arrow, Warrior III, Archer III, Seminole, Saratoga II HP and TC, Seneca V, Mirage and Meridian. The company recently unveiled two new aircraft - the Piper 6X and 6XT - which are slated for production later this year. The Piper 6X (below) is a normally aspirated, fixed-gear version of the six-place Saratoga II, and the Piper 6XT is its turbocharged equivalent.  In all, New Piper will manufacture 11 different models by year's end.

New Piper aircraft are sold to businesses, flight schools, commercial flight training centers and individual owner operators worldwide. More than 100,000 Piper planes are now flying all over the world, including the famous Piper Cub, a two-seat airplane used in World War II and by flight enthusiasts worldwide.

American Capital is a publicly traded buyout and mezzanine fund with capital resources of approximately $1.8 billion. American Capital is an equity partner in management and employee buyouts; invests in private equity sponsored buyouts, and provides capital directly to private and small public companies. American Capital provides senior debt, mezzanine debt and equity to fund growth, acquisitions and recapitalizations.

FMI: www.newpiper.com

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