Piper Aircrat under new ownership

 - August 4, 2008, 7:10 AM

Piper announced on July 21 that American Capital Strategies, a minority (about 2 percent) shareholder in the company since 1998, has acquired 94 percent of the Vero Beach, Fla.-based manufacturer’s voting equity. The announcement followed word on July 15 that ACS had secured Piper’s bank debt for approximately $75 million. Piper president and CEO Chuck Suma described American Capital, based in Bethesda, Md., as a publicly traded “buyout and mezzanine” fund with capital resources of approximately $1.8 billion. Among the 70 or so companies in which ACS is involved is Kelly Aerospace, which makes Janitrol aircraft heaters. Also as part of the recapitalization, affiliates of Exeter Capital Partners, a private equity firm and long-time investor in Piper, made an additional common equity investment of approximately $1 million for 6 percent of the common equity. Suma noted that half of ACS’s portfolio are manufacturing companies, and he emphasized that from Piper’s perspective, “American Capital will provide the stability and long-term commitment that will ensure Piper’s standing as the general aviation industry’s only full-line manufacturer.”

Until the recapitalization last month, Philadelphia-based Dimeling Schreiber & Park held the largest stake in New Piper Aircraft, with 46 percent. Piper expects revenues of about $137 million and deliveries of 250 aircraft this year.