Is No2 light-aircraft maker Cirrus Design looking for a buyer? There are a couple of conflicting reports out there, but I side with the reliable Molly McMillin of the Wichita Eagle. She quotes Cirrus spokeswoman Kate Dougherty as saying controlling shareholder Arcapita “buys and sells companies…they are not in the airplane manufacturing business”.
Cirrus is getting all this press because its biggest competitor, Cessna, has just bought its second biggest competitor, Columbia. But Columbia was in bankcruptcy protection and Cirrus is not. Cirrus is not because the founding Klapmeier brothers took the hard decision a few years ago to sell a controlling stake in their company in return for the investment required to boost its piston-single production into the big time.
It should be no surprise if Bahrain-backed Arcapita wants to cash out – Cirrus is profitable as a piston-single producer, but wants to expand into single-engine jet production. That takes money – and if Arcapita can both get a return on its investment and bring new capital into Cirrus by selling its stake or launching an IPO, it makes a lot of sense.
In my opinion any talk of Cessna buying Cirrus is nuts – even I would file an anti-trust suit to stop that happening. Cirrus is the goad Cessna needs to make it innovate. Hawker Beechcraft as buyer? Maybe. Some outside entity that can bring Cirrus and Eclipse together? Now wouldn’t that be interesting?
Who wouldn’t want to buy the company that builds this beauty?