Jet Aviation has announced that they have been sold, pending antitrust clearance, to the Permira Funds a leading international private equity specialist. Ending several years of speculation, the Zurich based operator of business jet services has finally accomplished what had long been expected: the sale of the Hirschmann family business to outsiders.
As early as 2000 the sale of Jet Aviation had been expected by employees as well as by industry insiders. Indeed, Jet Aviation management had been marketed openly throughout 2001 by Goldman Sachs, but the sale was cancelled when a suitable buyer was not found and the terrorist attacks put a further drag on an already downturning economy. Still, rumors of the sale of the company persisted and heated up recently with speculation that one of Warren Buffet’s companies, i.e., Gulfstream Aerospace, may have been interested in the company’s maintenance facilities.
Currently, Jet Aviation is a Zurich-based concern employing 3500 people worldwide. US operations remain strong with the bulk of the employees working out of Teterboro [NJ] Airport.
Even with the probable sale of the company to Permira, speculation is persisting as to what will become of the company after the sale is completed. Some industry leaders believe that the company is more valuable for its parts than as a single entity. Thus, parts of the company could be sold off and a scaled down Jet Aviation might remain in place. Areas of the company thought to be susceptible to a sale include:
1. US Maintenance Facilities. With prime locations at Bedford, Teterboro, West Palm Beach, and Dallas the American facilities are capable of providing expert airframe support to just about any type of business aircraft.
2. Completion Centers. Some or all of the company’s award winning completion centers are thought to be highly marketable. From the Boeing BBJ to the Gulfstream 550, and to the Sikorsky S-70A aircraft delivered “green” to Jet Aviation facilities are outfitted with state of the art interiors.
3. FBOs. Jet Aviation’s group of fixed based operations which provide domestic and international flight handling, line maintenance services, refueling, passenger and crew transportation, catering and hotel accommodations and immigration and customs services are an important asset for the company. Indeed, the Dubai facility — Jet Aviation’s newest FBO — is considered by some to be unmatched in the industry.
4. Jet Professionals. Founded in 1983, Jet Professionals — an aviation personnel service provider — became part of Jet Aviation as part of the acquisition of K-C Aviation Transportation Services in 1996.