UK's Britten-Norman snaps up Romaero

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The Romanian Government has sold it largest aircraft manufacturer, Romaero, to UK's Britten-Norman, for a reported $80.5m as part of its long-term policy to dispose of its state-owned assets. The sales were enforced following the breakdown of the former Communist regime in the 1989, but have gained momentum in the past 12 months due to public pressure.

The Romaero acquisition is part of Britten-Norman's long-term strategy to expand and diversify its Isle of Wight-based operation, since its sale by Pilatus Aircraft to US Industrial group Biofarm in 1998. "The Romaero acquisition will allow us to expand and diversify our activities in the global aerospace industry beyond the production of the Islander and the Defender aircraft," says Britten-Norman.

Romaero has manufactured over 500 Islander fuselages for Britten-Norman over the past 30 years and the Romanian company UK's will play a pivotal role in the company's development strategy.

The acquisition of Romaero will enable Britten-Norman to reduce the manufacturing costs for the Islander. "It [Romaero] offers the ability to handle in excess of 50% more capacity than it currently serves," adds Britten-Norman.

Britten-Norman is investing "a substantial sum" over four years to upgrade the Baneasa Airport site, where Romaero also performs subassembly and manufacturing work for a number of manufacturers including Bombardier's Canadair CL-415 and Boeing's 737 and 757. It also provides maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) work for European operators on "most" commercial aircraft. "We will increase our sales efforts and market [Romaero's] design manufacturing and MRO capabilities. We will examine partnerships to develop a large cargo facility [at Banaesa]," says Britten-Norman.

Romaero had previously been in serious discussion with C-S Aviation Services with a view to selling a majority stake to the New York-based equipment leasing company.