World banking giant Bank of America (Booth No. 700), a long-time player in fixed-wing financing, announced yesterday its entrance into the rotorcraft market. Although the bank has financed helicopters on an individual basis in the past, this marks the company’s first attempt at luring a broad spectrum of new clients.
In an attempt to enter the market in full swing, the company recently hired Chuck McGuire, a 30-year veteran of rotorcraft financing, who has worked for Bell Helicopter and Textron’s Aerospace Financing Division. “Bank of America’s focus and attention to the industry attracted me,” said McGuire. “It’s not just the color of the money, it’s the color of the service.”
According to senior v-p of corporate aircraft finance Michael Amalfitano, Bank of America didn’t want to enter the market unless it was sure it was ready to provide the full breadth of services. “We want to be a major player,” he said. The company will be offering services for maintenance and refurbishment, lease and debt, upgrades, offshore, EMS and every other common rotorcraft sector.
Amalfitano and McGuire aren’t commenting at this point on their short- or long-term goals, other than to say the company is in for the long haul and hopes to take market share from GE, the biggest competitor. But in an industry decidedly more volatile than the fixed-wing corporate market, time will judge how the company weathers the ups and downs. “It’s all about managing risk,” said McGuire.
Though the range of services and deep pockets will obviously appeal to many operators, smaller companies and individual owners may be less inclined to deal with such a large company. According to Amalfitano, this shouldn’t be a concern. “We’re a vertical unit of specialty,” he said. In addition, he said, Bank of America’s acquisition of MBNA’s small aircraft financing division last year means that smaller clients are still taken care of.