DAE seeks buyer for Landmark’s FBO group

 - August 29, 2007, 9:59 AM

After purchasing Landmark Aviation and Standard Aero from The Carlyle Group on August 1, Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE) announced that it is selling a division of Landmark Aviation now called the Airport Services Group and retaining the maintenance-focused portions of Landmark, including executive aircraft completions business Associated Air Center as well as turbine overhauler Standard Aero. The Airport Services Group is in the care of three trustees. Former Landmark Aviation president Shawn Vick is president and CEO of the Airport Services Group and will manage the organization while it is being sold.

Landmark’s Airport Services Group consists of 33 FBOs (or 34 if the second of two Landmark facilities in San Antonio is counted), the aircraft sales division (which includes a Hawker Beechcraft distributorship), the charter/management business (with 55 aircraft), six maintenance shops that are part of the FBOs being sold and six Hawker Beechcraft-authorized service centers that are also located at Landmark FBOs.

Merrill Lynch is leading the effort to sell the Airport Services Group. “We’re about to begin the process of management presentations to a variety of interested parties ranging from strategic to financial buyers,” Vick told AIN last month. “There is a high level of interest. That’s not terribly surprising given the attractiveness of the FBO business and acquisition activity around the FBO business in the last twenty-four to thirty-six months. I expect we’ll have a meaningful conversation in the next sixty days.” However, he added, “There is no timeline on this.”

Dubai Aerospace Enterprise could sell the Airport Services Group in its entirety or split it up, depending on buyer interest, Vick said. “There’s no particular bias or preconceived notion about selling it [in its] entirety or if the right opportunities present themselves to sell it in its various parts.” The goal is to find a buyer or buyers that offer the best deal that suits the interests of the current owners, the customers and the employees, he said.

Name Stays Intact?
Landmark Aviation, which comprises the former Garrett Aviation, Piedmont Hawthorne and Associated Air Center, spent a lot of time and money developing its new identity and brand name. “Dubai Aerospace appreciates the value of the brand and appreciates its value for the FBO network,” Vick said, but whatever makes the most sense for the new owners will take precedence.

“We’re prepared to have a conversation about their best interests. If it’s in the best interest [for the Landmark name] to go with the buyer, then that will cause a series of decisions in Dubai Aerospace about the use of the name in the maintenance business. If it doesn’t, then it will cause a different set of decisions for Dubai Aerospace,” he said.

Vick would be happy to continue leading the Airport Services Group after it transitions to new ownership. “I’ve got an exciting job,” he said, “and I enjoy it very much. This is a great group of people, the business is running very well, and I’m prepared to continue to lead the business into the future.”

While the sale of Landmark Aviation to Dubai Aerospace Enterprise was subject to review by the U.S. Treasury Department Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States, no information is available about the results of the committee’s review. Such information is not public, according to a Treasury Department spokeswoman.

The review must not have generated any problems, however, as there was no objection to the sale of Landmark Aviation to Dubai Aerospace Enterprise, unlike last year’s reaction to the Dubai Ports World acquisition of Britain’s Peninsular and Oriental Steam Company. Dubai Ports World is wholly owned by the government of Dubai, while Dubai Aerospace Enterprise is partially owned by Dubai’s government.