EBACE: Hawker Beechcraft to be under new ownership after $2.5 billion debt/equity swap

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Hawker Beechcraft has revealed that the company will have new owners after emerging from a financial restructuring under Chapter 11 bankrutpcy protection later this year.

Once the company emerges from Chapter 11 protection, the equity held by current co-owners Onex Partners and GS Capital Partners will be cancelled, in effect. The new creditors, a mix of undisclosed financial institutions, will then exchange $2.5 billion in debt load for ownership in the company as part of the restructuring process, says executive vice president for customers Shawn Vick.

"Over $2 billion of our debt [has] been wiped off the balance sheet as our debt holders have agreed to exchange their debt for ownership in the company," he adds.

Despite its financial woes, Hawker Beechcraft was eager this morning to stress "it's business and usual" and to demonstrate a dogged optimism for the long-term future of the business and general aviation manufacturer, which celebrates its 80th anniversary this year.

Hawker Beechcraft earlier this month voluntarily entered into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection but says it is continuing to build, support and deliver aircraft to customers.

This was illustrated this morning by the handover of two Hawker 4000 business jets - one to charter company Orion Malta and the second to Romanian operator InterAviation. The super midsize business jet is one of eight aircraft Hawker Beechcraft is displaying at EBACE this year. The line-up also includes a Premier 1A entry-level business jet, a special mission King Air 350ER demonstrator, a 350i, a Baron G58 piston twin, an 800XPR - making its EBACE debut - and a 900XP. The midsize business jet is the latest version of the ubiquitous 125 series, now in its 50th year.

"The Hawker 125 series is one of the most iconic business aircraft in the industry," says Hawker's vice president for marketing, Ron Gunnarson. The success of the 125 series is one of many iconic aircraft in the Hawker Beechcraft stable. "We have a well-respected global brand and a very large installed base," says Vick, adding that the orders for the 900XP this year are running at twice the rate of 2011.

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association reveals that the 900XP accounted for 34% of business jet deliveries in the midsize sector last year, while its King Air family represented 42% of business turboprop shipments during the same period. "We delivered 107 King Airs last year and the entire King Air series continues to be ordered at an impressive rate around the world," says Sean McGeough, Hawker Beechcraft president, Europe, Middle East Africa and Asia Pacific.