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Mon, Oct 06, 2008

India's Tata Invests In Piaggio Aero

Company Acquires Approx. 1/3 Stake In Planemaker

The cat was already out of the bag by the time Piaggio Aero executives had the chance to share their big news at NBAA 2008... as news of the company's newest shareholder had already made the rounds in the financial wires last week.

Piaggio introduced S.A. Hasan, Managing Director of Tata Limited UK, a branch of India's massive Tata industrial conglomerate. Tata Ltd. will acquire a roughly 1/3 stake in the Italian planemaker, complementing current stakeholders Mubadala Development of the UAE, and the Ferrari and Di Mase families.

"We are really honoured that Tata Limited has chosen to invest in Piaggio Aero Industries, becoming our co-primary shareholder," Piero Ferrari, Piaggio Aero Industries Chairman, said last week. "We are heavily engaged in strategic planning for the development of the company. Tata Limited’s involvement in our projects would be extremely gratifying and allow us to increase the success of recent years. The future for Piaggio Aero is bright and with the support of world-class investors and strategic partners like Mubadala Development Company and Tata Limited” .

During Sunday's formal announcement at NBAA, Tata Limited UK Managing Director S.A. Hasan couched the importance of the announcement in stark terms. "Today is my 39th wedding anniversary. My wife's in London, and I'm here," he told attendees, to sympathetic chuckles.

Tata's investment injects a healthy dose of capital into Piaggio Aero, as it works to ramp up production of the popular, but labor-intensive, P180 Avanti II. Piaggio officials report a roughly two-year backlog, based on current production goals of delivering 30 aircraft in 2008, increasing to 38 in 2009 and 45-50 in 2010.

In return, Tata's involvement in Piaggio bolsters that company's industrial offerings -- giving it a small, but significant, presence in the global aircraft marketplace. Hasan added the partnership will also open new markets for the Avanti II, India being but one.

Officials with both entities said the investor has already won regulatory approval, with the formal go-ahead expected later this month.

FMI: www.tata.com, www.piaggioaero.com

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