Airways’ (BA) Italian regional franchisee National Jet Italia (NJI) is to be
bought by UK company Tolmount in a deal worth up to £35 million ($58 million).
marks the start of a concerted attempt by Tolmount to step up its aviation
activity. The company, listed on the London Alternative Investment Market (AIM),
plans to change its name to Aviation Partners Worldwide and says it is seeking
further opportunities in the sector.
proposed deal comes a year after the Rome-based carrier commenced flights.
Initially serving Palermo in Sicilly from the Italian capital, NJI now also
operates flights to Catania, Athens, Milan and Nice. It represents the oneworld
alliance’s only toehold in Italy.
plans to acquire 99.99% of NJI for an initial sum of £30.7 million, with a
further $4.2 million possibly due in 2003 depending on the airline’s
performance in the 2002 financial year.
is currently majority owned (80.4%) by Netherlands-based investment company
Magitbay Holdings, while BAE Systems holds a further 19.65% - the company
previously stated that it had taken no equity in NJI, but had provided some
debt to the start-up. NJI director Marcantonio Lucido and BA hold the remaining
shares. Under the envisaged deal the UK airline will continue to own one share
in the Italian regional.
company plans to complete the deal through the issuing of new Tolmount shares,
after which BAE Systems will own between 11-13% of the share capital of the
enlarged company. Tolmount also hopes to raise between £13-16.5 million for the
enlarged company through the placing of new shares, helping fund both NJI’s
route expansion and provide additional working capital for Tolmount. The deal
would be scratched should Tolmount fail to raise the minimum placing of £13
which currently operates four British Aerospace BAe 146-300s and two Boeing
737-400s, is eyeing new routes from Rome to Tel Aviv, Istanbul and Cairo,
together with charter opportunities within southern Europe. NJI carried 350,000
passenger since its launch of services last July, and incurred a loss of £14.4
million for the nine months to September 2000 – generating net sales of £2.1
million during the third quarter.
chairman Peter Sutch, formerly chairman and CEO of Cathay Pacific, says in a
statement: “The first acquisition for Tolmount brings us an opportunity to
exploit a gap in the third largest aviation market in Europe and the potential
of Rome as a southern European hub.
strategy will be to identify other similar opportunities in a rapidly changing
aviation market. Our proposed change of name to Aviation Partners Worldwide
reflects the direction we intend to drive our business.”
founder, ex-CEO of National Jet Systems of Australia Warren Seymour, and fellow
NJI management member, former Cathay Pacific financial manager Michael
Scantlebury, will both join the Tolmount board.
in Tolmount shares, which was suspended in April pending the possible
acquisition announcement, resumed this morning.