Piper Aircraft Acquired To 'Secure New Growth
OK... we know that
such a headline is likely to worry some folks... so let's get right
to the nitty-gritty. Piper's new owner is Imprimis... a company
that assures ANN that it "fully supports the PiperJet development"
program. Piper will stay in Vero Beach and Imprimis has stated that
it is "committed to keeping Piper's headquarters, production
and product development facilities in Vero Beach, Fla."
Now to the details.
As rumored, Piper Aircraft's owner, American Capital Ltd., has
sold its 100 percent stake in the company to Imprimis in a private
transaction that 'aims to secure the long-term success of Florida's
72 year-old General Aviation company.' Imprimis is a corporate
finance and investment management firm that operates from its
offices in Bangkok, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam.
Imprimis intends to invest significant capital in Piper's
current operations to strengthen its position in its traditional
markets and support the development of key new products such as the
PiperJet. Imprimis was drawn to Piper because of the significant
potential that it sees for Piper to expand its activities into new
markets in Asia Pacific, which is expected to experience steady
growth for two- to six-seat aircraft over the next five years, in
part due to shifting demographics and increasing demand for pilot
training from training schools and flying clubs (commercial and
private). Outside of long-term plans for growing market share in
Asia, the new shareholders are committed to keeping Piper's
headquarters, production and product development facilities in Vero
"Imprimis brings a level of support that will propel Piper from
its current status as a company with a strong heritage, track
record of innovation and great potential to one that is growing and
pushing the envelope within General Aviation," said Piper President
and CEO James K. Bass (Pictured below). "Imprimis' commitment to
grow Piper in both existing and emerging markets comes at a time
when we are poised to enter a new era in aviation history."
Imprimis Managing Partner Stephen W. Berger pointed to 'Piper's
substantial track record and respect the company enjoys within the
General Aviation industry as being among the primary reasons to
"Piper's capabilities, its excellent dealer family and extensive
customer base, coupled with Imprimis' capability to provide
financial support, our dedication to growing the companies we
invest in and our contacts within Asia provide fertile ground for
Piper to expand its business in the Asian market and throughout the
world," said Berger.
Berger said that "Imprimis had been looking for some time to
invest in an aviation company with a proven track record of
prospering in the face of serious challenges. Piper has a strong
order book despite challenging times thanks to its position as the
only general aviation manufacturer to build and offer aircraft for
every general aviation mission."
Recent examples include:
- The Piper Matrix, based on the world-renowned Malibu Mirage,
has been a leader in its segment (high-end, cabin-class
unpressurized aircraft) and has delivered unprecedented sales in
recent Piper history.
- The Piper Meridian, Piper's flagship, turboprop aircraft, this
year relaunched with the Garmin G1000 avionics suite - essentially
the brain of the aircraft - to excellent reviews. Much more than an
upgraded aircraft, the Meridian with the G1000, its integrated
autopilot (the GFC700) and Garmin's Synthetic Vision Technology
performs more like a business jet than a personal airplane.
- The PiperJet continues reaching new milestones with regularity.
The PiperJet's first flight took place last July. Since then, Piper
test pilots have flown more than 150 hours and to 35,000 feet,
where they assessed and in the months ahead will continue to
explore the high altitude performance of the aircraft. Piper has
204 contracted orders for the PiperJet, which is more than the
company had for the highly successful Piper Meridian at this point
in its development.
"Piper's iconic status, coupled with its commitment to product
innovation, excellent quality and a management team and workforce
second-to-none made it a compelling choice," Berger said. "Imprimis
sees this acquisition as a perfect fit as we develop plans for
Piper's continued growth in its existing markets and for
significant expansion within the Asian markets where much of our
Another top priority for Imprimis 'was a proven track record for
innovation and bringing excellent products to market,' Berger
"Even with the existing worldwide economic recession - and the
toll it has taken on General Aviation, including Piper - Piper
remains strong and well-run, with a strong balance sheet, a
comprehensive product line, and a workforce dedicated to providing
its customers with excellent products and services," Berger said.
"At the same time, Piper has extensive expertise in international
markets and the facility to expand into new and emerging markets as
well - all essential to our search criteria."
One of three remaining "legacy" manufacturers of general
aviation aircraft, Piper currently manufactures seven models: the
Warrior III, Arrow, Seminole, Seneca V, Matrix, Mirage and
Meridian. The company is also developing the PiperJet.