12:09 PM

A Headline to Get
Anyone's Attention!

If you glimpsed the following headline without reading the Wichita Eagle story below it, there might be initial cause for alarm:

Planemaker Cirrus seeking buyer
Say what? Cirrus..for sale? My first gut reaction was that it would be literally impossible for such a great company to be in some kind of financial situation and need to bail out. And as usual, the Eagle's Molly McMillin – their always spot-on aviation writer – illuminates the details:
Cirrus Design Corp. is seeking a buyer to acquire or merge with the aircraft manufacturer, company officials said Thursday. Its major stakeholder, Arcapita, which owns roughly 58 percent of Cirrus, wants to make its money back on its investment.
McMillin's story quotes Cirrus spokeswoman Kate Dougherty as saying "That's been no secret, Cirrus has known that its business partners would be looking for an exit strategy. Arcapita buys and sells companies, they're not in the airplane manufacturing business."

The Eagle piece also lists a couple of interesting items about who might be interested in acquiring Cirrus:
Some time ago, Cirrus retained Credit Suisse and JPMorgan along with law firms King & Spalding and Dorsey & Whitney as business consultants to help it explore options, Dougherty said. One analyst said Cessna Aircraft would be a natural buyer. Cirrus could enhance Cessna's capabilities in the lower end of the general aviation market. "If they (Cessna) could get it for a good price, it would give them designs to sell, eliminate a competitor and give them composite technology," said Teal Group analyst Richard Aboulafia.
Well, with the ink not yet dry on Cessna's purchase of Columbia, it's a sure bet they won't also want to buy up Cirrus too now that they have the capability to build low-wing composite planes in Oregon, Kansas, or, God forbid...China. But the other name mentioned in McMillin's story was worth noting:
JSA Research analyst Paul Nisbet thought Cirrus could be a good fit for Hawker Beechcraft because the Wichita planemaker eventually would like to become publicly traded. Acquiring Cirrus would expand Hawker Beechcraft and "make it much more saleable on a public basis," Nisbet said.
Hmmm, now THAT makes the mind race. Just what would Hawker Beechcraft want with whatever Cirrus has in their skunk works...maybe a very cool little single engine jet? A re-branded "The Jet" would certainly turn some heads and generate quick revenue in the hotly-contested PJ market. And after all, someone needs to compete with Piper's entry in that race...and a Cirrus-built PJ with Beechcraft painted on the fuselage could easily go head-to-head with the Piper PJ.

Time will tell on how this one shakes out. Acquiring Cirrus will be a coup for any company as it has always been etched in stone that Team Klapmeier builds some of the finest, highest-quality single-engine planes in the sky. But what would REALLY turn this writer's head would be a Cirrus piston twin, maybe with Thielert diesel power?

Oh baby, sign me up for one of those.

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