March 16, 2011
By Alton K. Marsh
An investment team managed by consultant Brian Foley will begin strategy planning in late March after announcing plans to counter an offer for Cirrus Aircraft made by the Chinese. The company, China Aviation Industry General Aircraft (CAIGA), is purchasing Epic Air and Teledyne Continental Motors, and is the leading bidder for Emivest Aerospace, manufacturer of the SJ30 business jet. The Chinese company may have its eye on additional American aviation assets.
Foley said his group is linked to an investment banker, and additional investors have expressed interest in topping the reported $200 million or more agreement by CAIGA. Despite that agreement, Foley said he feels the company would listen to a better bid. Foley is a securities representative with John W. Loofbourrow Associates that could coordinate and represent investors.
Foley said he has heard from a “common denominator” of people who don’t want to see Cirrus “shipped overseas.” His first announcement was intended to attract investors willing to contribute to the effort to keep the company under American ownership. Foley is determining if the primary owners of Cirrus are willing to consider a serious counter-offer. There is time to assemble such an offer because the sale of Cirrus to China requires a lengthy approval process, Foley said.
The current owner is Bahrain-based Arcapita Bank, formerly known as Crescent Capital, a branch of the First Islamic Investment Bank of Bahrain, which purchased a majority stake in 2001 for a reported $100 million.
“The aviation community is telling us it’s time to restore and keep Cirrus here as an American treasure,” Foley said. “I’m in a good position to try, at least, to make that happen.”
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.
Quest Aircraft Co. has signed a China dealer for its Kodiak and eventually will do limited assembly and manufacturing there.
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