Billions of dollars worth of new corporate deals are set to be struck in the aerospace sector over the coming weeks, according to Michael Richter, managing director and co-head of Lazard's Aerospace & Defense Investment Banking Group. In part, these deals are being driven by tactical investment factors, such as the need for U.S. investors to divest themselves of assets that would be liable to taxation through pending changes to the capital gains fiscal code. But investors are also more bullish about the aerospace outlook, Richter told AIN, and this is mainly because market conditions simply seem a lot clearer today and the outlook more certain than it has over much of the past two years. One group of investors that Richter sees getting back into the aerospace sector are private equity groups that see equity valuations increasing and fresh opportunity to take the lead in a fresh wave of mergers and acquisitions.
According to Richter, more positive and sustained order rates in the aerospace sector have been a big factor in this more optimistic outlook, as has been the turnaround in profitability for many airlines. He also gave aerospace firms credit for having taken decisive action to adjust the sizes of their businesses during the worst of the downturn, although he pointed out that they had little choice. “The problem was real and serious and we are still not out of the weeds,” said Richter, adding that while the rate of job layoffs has now stalled, the industry is certainly not being quick to rehire staff.