GKN’s takeover of Fokker Technologies may not have the transformative impact on either company of the 2013 deal that brought Volvo Aero into the GKN fold, or its 2009 purchase of Airbus’s wing works at Filton. But the significance of the deal should not be underestimated in terms of its internal impact on both companies and the broader aerospace industry.

Internally, the deal secures the future of Fokker, which has seen hard times, rejuvenation, ownership changes and strategy overhauls since the demise of the aircraft types that bear its name. GKN should benefit smartly from the Fokker heritage. The Dutch company no longer makes aircraft, but it retains the DNA of an aircraft maker – hard to define but no small advantage for GKN as major tier 1s increasingly become top-line partners in new aircraft programmes.

The wider implications are also encouraging. Like GE’s 2013 acquisition of Avio Aero, the Fokker deal represents a successful exit by a private equity investor – a story that has been all too rare since the financial crisis.

Private equity and its attendant management skill is an invaluable lubricant in an industry with a supply chain of small-to-medium businesses that often struggle to keep pace with the demands of the heavy hitters they sell to. But private equity only works if it can get out at a profit. Let’s hope that more big players like GKN and GE are eager to buy.

Source: Flight International