Hawker Beechcraft has appointed American International Group (AIG) chairman and self-proclaimed "Turnaround Kid" Robert "Steve" Miller as chief executive of the Wichita-based airframer, keeping former chief executive Bill Boisture on as chairman of subsidiary Hawker Beechcraft Corp.
The move comes as financial advisors hired by the company in December seek solutions to debt issues compounded by the continuing soft market for light and midsize business jets. Hawker is owned by investment firms Goldman Sachs and Onex.
Miller, a luminary in investment circles, has a long history of rescuing financially troubled US companies through restructuring, including automobile parts maker Delphi and Chrysler.
He took a position on the AIG board of directors in 2009 after the insurer received more than $180 billion in bailout funds from the US government in 2008 as the company teetered on collapse. Miller was named chairman in 2010. In 2008 he published his autobiography The Turnaround Kid: What I Learned Rescuing America's Most Troubled Companies.
Trouble was there in spades when Boisture took over as chief executive of Hawker Beechcraft in 2009, when plunging demand and cancellations required the airframer to cut 2,800 jobs, one-third of its workforce. Boisture previously held top slots at fractional provider NetJets and Gulfstream Aerospace.
Three years later, business and general aviation revenues remained depressed and the loss in December of a light air support aircraft contract from the US Air Force - worth as much as $1 billion to competitor Embraer - soured the outlook.
"Hawker Beechcraft is a great company with iconic brands and dedicated employees," said Miller of his appointment. "I'm honoured to join and to help this company navigate through the challenges of the current general aviation market. The board of directors is grateful to [Boisture] for the work done to reposition Hawker Beechcraft, especially its manufacturing, customer support, and sales and marketing operations."