UK manufacturer Britten-Norman’s immediate future has been secured with the sale via an apparent pre-pack administration of the business and assets of five companies within the B-N Group to a private equity firm.

Questions about the state of airframer’s finances had been swirling since news broke in February that it had filed a notice to appoint administrators and was exploring refinancing options.

Britten-Norman Islander

Source: Britten-Norman Group

Britten-Norman believes new ownership structure will allow it to scale up production to meet demand

Ultimately, Chris Pole and Will Wright from insolvency firm Interpath Advisory were on 21 March appointed as joint administrators to Britten-Norman, Britten-Norman Aircraft, BN Defence, and BN Daedalus, plus parent company B-N Group.

Following their appointment, the administrators sold 100% of the share capital of Britten-Norman Aerospace – another group company, which until 29 February had traded as BN Aviation – to Shelton Bidco, an investment vehicle established by a group of financial investors led by 4D Capital Partners.

Britten-Norman Aerospace subsequently acquired the business and assets of its sister companies.

Shelton Bidco has also acquired the share capital of the firm’s US entities BN Aircraft Sales Inc and Britten-Norman Inc.

4D Capital Partners – described as a “private equity firm that focuses on operational improvement and business transformation” – has not disclosed how much it paid for the business and assets of the five companies.

However, the manufacturer says the “new investors are making funds available to Britten-Norman to fund working capital and to drive successful long-term growth.”

Britten-Norman Aerospace has two directors: William Hynett and Alex Silk, respectively B-N Group’s chief executive and founder of 4D Capital Partners. Silk is also the sole director of Shelton Bidco.

The transactions see the transfer to Britten-Norman Aerospace of all 117 staff across the group’s head office and manufacturing site on the Isle of Wight, hangars in Lee-on-Solent, its design and engineering site in Southampton and sales office in London.

“The board has been in an extended process to secure the right investment that would allow Britten-Norman to deliver its plans to scale up output to meet demand,” says Hynett.

“Following a great deal of interest in the business, we are pleased to have identified a new investor that shares our vision and strategy.”

Britten-Norman jigs Bembridge

Source: Britten-Norman

Bembridge facility on the Isle of Wight is site for Islander assembly

B-N Group was previously jointly controlled by Hynett, through his Chewton Glen holding company, and Omani investor Alawi Zawawi, UK company records show.

Accounts for the year to 31 March 2022 – the most recent available – show B-N Group made a loss of £3.6 million ($4.5 million) during the period. At that time, its auditors advised there was a “material uncertainty” about the firm’s ability to continue as a going concern.

The accounts, filed on 31 August 2023, add that “the group will require further funding in the coming months to fund working capital requirements and this funding has not yet been secured at the date of this audit report”.

Accounts for the period to 31 March 2023 were due to have been submitted by 30 December last year, according to Companies House.

“From the outset we saw the latent value in Britten-Norman, which has been underperforming since the pandemic,” Silk says.

“In addition to bringing working capital, our team will work closely with management to help the company ramp up production to meet the exciting demand for its sought-after Islander aircraft.”

Britten-Norman last September opened a final assembly line for the Islander at its Bembridge plant on the Isle of Wight, having repatriated production from its partner in Romania. A first UK-built aircraft was due to roll off the line in May this year.