UK-based Signature Aviation—the parent company of Signature Flight Support, which operates the world’s largest FBO network—could soon be sold to private-equity firm Blackstone Infrastructure Advisors and Blackstone Core Equity Management Associates for approximately $4 billion, according to a statement released today by Signature. Blackstone has more than $580 billion in assets under management.
This latest overture, the sixth from Blackstone to Signature since February, equates to a possible cash offer of $5.17 per share. According to a note issued today to its investors in response to recent share increases as word of the offer leaked, Signature stated, “Having considered the terms of the Blackstone proposal, the board of Signature has indicated to Blackstone that it would currently be minded to recommend a firm offer for Signature at the price set out in the Blackstone proposal.”
Signature achieved preeminence in the FBO industry following its 2015 acquisition of then-rival Landmark Aviation from investment fund manager The Carlyle Group, and its network currently consists of more than 200 locations in 27 countries.
If completed, the deal could be a “game-changer”, according to FBO business consultant Steve Dennis, chairman of Aviation Resource Group International. “Since its inception following WWII, fixed-base operations, large and small, have been challenged to attract capital,” he told AIN. “This scale of investment by private equity will further validate and enhance the value of the FBO industry.”
“Just as the acquisition of Flight Safety by Berkshire-Hathaway in 1996 brought business and executive flight training into the 'investment-grade,' marketplace, so too would the acquisition of Signature by Blackstone do for the FBO industry,” Dennis said.