Permira flies to 4x return

UK buyouts giant Permira has racked up the biggest return of any British private equity firm since the credit crunch with the sale of Swiss aircraft services group Jet Aviation to US jet maker General Dynamics.

At a cost of £1.2bn, the exit is reported to have generated a 4x return for Permira, which has owned the Zurich-headquartered company since October 2005. Since that time, the business has acquired two US rivals and expanded into China and Russia.

The deal has earned Permira investor SVG Capital £84.2m from an initial outlay of £21.8m.

For General Dynamics, the acquisition represents an attempt to capitalise on the boom in the private jet business as a result of rising wealth levels in the Middle East and Asia. Jet Aviation employs almost 5,600 employees, and operates across 25 airport facilities throughout Europe, the Middle East, Asia and North and South America.

It provides maintenance, completions and refurbishment, engineering, fixed base services, along with aircraft management, charter services, aircraft sales and personnel services.

Nicholas D. Chabraja, chairman and CEO of General Dynamics, said: “Permira backed a period of significant capital investment in this business that drove rapid organic growth, and Jet Aviation strengthened its franchise globally through a successful acquisition strategy. As a result, the company is well-positioned to capture further growth opportunities in the business aviation market. Through General Dynamic’s acquisition of this strong and rapidly growing organization, we will expand our participation in the business aviation industry well beyond that of our current operations.”