Company "Surprised That Anyone Would Find That Surprising"
Citing "reports circulating" at last week's AirVenture 2007 show
in Oshkosh, WI, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association reports
Piper Aircraft may soon swap hands.
AOPA says American Capital Strategies -- the Maryland-based
equity firm that has owned the storied planemaker for the past four
years -- "may be shopping the company to prospective buyers."
As ANN reported, American
Capital assumed ownership of Piper in 2003, after paying $34
million to assume the company's $57 million in bank debt. Combined
with a further $20 million investment in the company, officials at
the time said the company owned 94 percent of Piper.
In response to the AOPA report, on Monday Piper Aircraft
spokesman Steve Johnston said the company does not comment on
rumors or speculation... but fell short of denying an imminent
"At any given time most companies are for sale at the right
price, so we find it surprising that anyone would find that
surprising," Johnston said. "As we have said many times before,
Piper is and will continue to be for sale under the right
Aerospace analyst Richard Aboulafia with the Teal Group told
Florida's Treasure Coast Palm he wasn't surprised to hear the
"This is what a private equity fund does," Aboulafia said. "They
hold on to something for a couple years, fix it and then sell
The news comes as a resurgent Piper is shopping for locations
for a plant to produce its upcoming single-engine PiperJet VLJ. In
addition to the planemaker's current home in Vero Beach, FL, the
company is also considering Albuquerque, NM and Oklahoma City for
the plant, and possibly the company's corporate headquarters as
In something of a surprise move, Piper recently said it would
not accept public financing being offered by Vero Beach and Indian
River County, as part of a $76.5 million incentive package to keep
Piper in Florida. The planemaker said it was best for the community
to not move forward with the proposal, which was tied to a
According to GAMA, Piper sold 61 aircraft in the second quarter
of 2007, for revenues of an estimated $46.4 million. That builds on
the 43 sales and $32.5 million in revenue reported in the first
Combined with Piper's partnership with Honda to assist in
manufacturing the HondaJet, announced last year at
AirVenture... and the Piper Aircraft of today is a far
more attractive option for a purchaser than it was four years ago.