Italian government takes 20-percent stake in Piaggio

 - October 8, 2007, 5:51 AM

Sviluppo Italia, the Italian government industrial investment agency, has bought more than 20 percent of Piaggio Aero Industries, parent company of Piaggio America, with an investment of E20 million ($21.8 million). Piaggio Aero’s existing private shareholders have injected an additional E15 million ($16.4 million), taking the company’s total capitalization to more than E80 million ($87.2 million)–15 times more than when the current shareholders, led by the Ferrari and DiMase families, bought the company in 1998. Company officials characterized the government stake as important in that it “reinforces our plans to increase Avanti production rates and minimize aircraft delivery times.”

Veteran de Havilland Canada and Bombardier executive Tom Appleton (right) took over as president and CEO of Greenville, S.C.-based Piaggio America last month, replacing Steve Hanvey, who has chosen to pursue other career interests but remains available to Piaggio. Hanvey was the founding president and CEO of Piaggio America three years ago. Jim Holcombe (left) who has served as Piaggio America’s executive v-p for sales and marketing for the past year or so, has been promoted to executive v-p and COO. Appleton told AIN he sees great prospects for the Avanti turboprop, which he describes as a “slam-dunk product” in an economy that has bottomed out.