Piper Aircraft owner American Capital has sold 100% of the Florida-based general aviation manufacturer to Asia-Pacific-based corporate finance and investment firm, Imprimis.
“Imprimis was drawn to Piper because of the significant potential that it sees for Piper to expand its activities into new markets in Asia Pacific, which is expected to experience steady growth for two- to six-seat aircraft over the next five years, in part due to shifting demographics and increasing demand for pilot training from training schools and commercial and private flying clubs,” Piper said in a statement today. With offices in Bangkok, Brunei and Singapore, Imprimis focuses on investments in companies that will do business in the region.
Piper currently has about 3,000 aircraft in Australia “but hasn’t’ been in Asia in as big a way as we could,” says a Piper spokesman. “This will open the market while at the same time really bolstering our existing programs.”
Imprimis says it has no immediate plans to change the management team at Piper and “outside of long-term plans for growing market share in Asia” it is “committed to keeping Piper's headquarters, production and product development facilities in Vero Beach, Florida.”
The company also plans to continue investments in research and development, including the completion of Piper’s flagship offering, the single-engine PiperJet. Piper currently builds seven aircraft models in Vero Beach.
American Capital, a lender and portfolio company, first invested $20 million in Piper in 1998 and in 2003 purchased a 94% stake. The remainder or the stock was owned by affiliates of Exeter Capital Partners, a private equity firm and long time investor in Piper.
American had made it clear in recent years that Piper, like any of this portfolio companies, was for sale at the right price.