Permira in $2.3bn Swiss charter jet exit

US defense contractor General Dynamics has acquired Zurich-based Jet Aviation, just three years after Permira purchased a majority stake in the family-owned business for an estimated €515m to €644m. The private aviation market has attracted numerous private equity players including TPG and Lehman Brothers.

Private equity firm Permira has sold its majority interest in Swiss business aviation services company Jet Aviation for $2.3 billion (€1.6 billion), less than three years after acquiring the Zurich-based business.
 
US defense contractor General Dynamics Group has agreed to acquire all shares of Jet Aviation, pending customary regulatory approval. The boards of directors of General Dynamics and Jet Aviation have both endorsed the transaction, and the deal is expected to close by the end of the year, according to a statement.
 
London-based Permira purchased Jet Aviation in 2005 for an undisclosed price from then owners the Hirschmann family. Swiss reports suggested the sale price at the time was between €515m to €644m.
 
Since the acquisition, Zurich-based Jet Aviation has grown its executive-jet charter fleet from 160 to 200 aircraft and its employee count from 3,500 to 5,600.
 
The company currently provides maintenance, repair, refurbishment, engineering, flight support and charter services for business aviation clients. Permira had reportedly been shopping the company since March.
 
Jet Aviation will retain its management and operational structure as an independent business within Virginia-based General Dynamics, according to the statement.
 
Last fall, TPG and Lehman Brothers Global Principal Strategies made a $363 million investment in charter jet operator XOJET. Earlier this year, the firms led a second $2.5 billion debt and equity financing round in the California-based company, which is pitted in direct competition against Warren Buffet-backed charter service NetJets.