Landmark considers expanding to Europe

 - September 15, 2006, 11:10 AM

Landmark Aviation, The Carlyle Group’s FBO and maintenance business, is pursuing global growth. Having rebranded two of its three components under the Landmark identity last fall, president Shawn Vick said the company has adopted a “structured approach” to expansion through mergers, acquisitions and partnerships.

Whatever the outcome of current talks about a possible first European operation with UK-based Marshall Aerospace, Landmark “will continue to talk to potential partners [and will] look at any company in alignment with our strategy, from a simple partnering arrangement through to potential acquisition,” said Vick.

Last month Marshall revealed that the two companies were discussing a European joint venture. The British company has been a Cessna-authorized Citation service center for more than 30 years and also has had extensive Gulfstream support experience along with other aircraft modification and maintenance, repair and overhaul activities. Marshall recently has been considering increased business aviation activity through growth, acquisition and collaboration.

“We are delighted [about possibly] working with Landmark as they begin European growth,” said Marshall Aerospace marketing and business-development director Mick Milne. A precursor to joint European expansion could be a “next generation” full-service center at Marshall’s Cambridge headquarters, about 40 miles north of London, according to Milne.

Last month Landmark Aviation vice chairman Dean Harton said that Landmark would “come to Europe regardless. [Marshall Aerospace] understands our aspirations and matches our needs. I look forward to [a potential] European partnership.”

Vick said there was no specific time frame for a definitive decision about the proposed joint venture. “There is a complex discussion to determine the nature of an agreement that will be mutually advantageous. It is early days.”

Fertile Ground for Growth
Europe’s installed business-jet base is growing rapidly, according to Vick. “The European FBO business is similar [to that in North America], a business we know well,” so the market was “a natural alignment to our strategy,” concluded Vick. “We can expand our business in Europe. Marshall has a variety of services that offer a natural fit [to our own], so it is the kind of company with which we would partner.”

When Landmark was established from three acquired companies in 2004, parent Carlyle Group said the goal was “to build long-term value through synergies, process improvement and investment.” The company comprises the former Garrett Aviation and Piedmont Hawthorne operations, while a third acquisition–Associated Air Center–continues under its established identity.

Regarding its late-2005 rebranding of the business formerly known as Garrett/Piedmont Haw-thorne/Associated, the company is “extremely pleased” with industry response, according to Vick. 

Landmark believes “a large portion of the market” sees Associated’s completion and maintenance as a different operation from its mainstream business, said Vick. Nevertheless, Associated is now marketed as “a Landmark Aviation company.”