October 17, 2013
Beechcraft reportedly has instructed Credit Suisse to approach prospective buyers, including Cessna Aircraft, just months after the manufacturer emerged from an extensive Chapter 11 reorganization.
Beechcraft is not commenting on the Bloomberg report, but CEO Bill Boisture last summer noted to Aviation Week that three of the company’s major shareholders are those that specialized in distressed properties. In those cases, he said, the question comes up on whether they’re long-term owners. “I wouldn’t think so,” he said.
The owners of Beechcraft are banks, “and creditors have had no interest in being in the airplane business,” notes industry analyst Brian Foley. Beechcraft’s creditors took ownership of the company in February in exchange for erasing close to $2.5 billion in debt.
Beechcraft reportedly could fetch $1.5 billion, less than half the $3.3 billion that Goldman Sachs and Onex paid in 2007 to buy the company from Raytheon. It also is a little less than the $1.79 billion that Chinese-backed Superior Aviation Beijing had planned to pay for Beechcraft.
While Beechcraft is returning to stability and profitability on its aging lines of pistons and turboprops, the King Air product line is considered a “cash cow” that held up well through the downturn and one that has no real head-on competitor. Beechcraft’s services business also is deemed lucrative, particularly with its support of thousands of King Airs and Hawkers that are still in service.
The sale of Beechcraft likely would be independent of its effort to sell its Premier and Hawker 4000 jet lines. Beechcraft has been hoping to conclude that sales by the end of the year.
As for speculation surrounding Cessna, Scott Donnelly, chairman of Cessna parent company Textron, told analysts last year that there were parts of Beechcraft of interest to Cessna and that Textron was monitoring the bankruptcy proceedings.