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AERO Vodochody plans to return to the ranks of leading aviation companies

The new owner of AERO Vodochody a.s. (AERO), the private equity group Penta Investments, wants to return the company to the ranks of the world's leading aviation companies in the field of aircraft production.

27.11.2006

AERO is most widely known for its L-29 Dolphin (NATO codename Maya) and L-39 Albatros aircraft. Over 2,900 L-39s were produced and to date it is in use with the armed forces of over 30 nations. The latest military jet aircraft from AERO Vodochody a.s. is the L-159, which has been introduced into service with the Czech Air Force.

"We want Aero to resume its position among the top producers of aviation technology," says Marek Dospiva, a Penta partner. "At the beginning of the 1990s the company lost its traditional markets, even though the Aero brand had historically been very well-known. I am pleased that the government approved the privatization of Aero and that we can immediately commence its restructuring based on three priorities - aviation production within cooperative projects, construction of an airport in Vodochody and cooperation with the Czech Air Force". Penta is already discussing possible cooperation with a range of world aviation companies such as BAE Systems, Latecoere and Piaggio Aero, among others.

"There is a promising perspective ahead of the aviation industry in the Czech Republic. It can base its future on a number of previous successful projects, both civil and military, and on its tradition of leading-edge aircraft engineering. This is why it is important for companies like AERO Vodochody to get strong partners, who will help them stabilise their business and return among the world leaders," says Tomas Hruda, CEO of CzechInvest.

The new owner's first step will be the complete capital restructuring of the company, which in particular involves increasing the basic capital by approximately CZK 8 billion (approx. EUR 300 million) and enables further steps focused on business, marketing and operations. "We are convinced that the long experience and top technical know-how of Aero's workers, together with Penta's financial backing and our experience with restructuring, can put Aero back among the important players in the field of aviation manufacturing," adds Marek Dospiva.

In addition to supporting aviation production, Penta wants to also use Aero's existing private airport near Prague. The airport has hitherto served for testing new Aero products and is also used by Czech Airlines and other companies for, e.g., pilot training. Penta is planning to build an international airport in Vodochody, which would focus primarily on low-cost carriers and Prague-bound charter flights.

The aviation industry has a rich tradition in the Czech Republic, which is evidenced by such aircraft as the L-29 and L-39 from Aero, LET Kunovice's L-410 light transport plane and Blanik gliders, which are consistently the world's most utilized gliders, and Zlin sport planes from Moravan Otrokovice, which have won the world aerobatics championship six times

More about AERO Vodochody

AERO Vodochody a.s. was established in 1919. The company's main activities include development and production of aircraft and aircraft components, repair and modernization of aircraft and operation of an airport in Vodochody. The company is currently manufacturing the L-159 military jet aircraft, which is offered together with the L-159B complete training system, and the Ae 270 civilian turboprop transport plane. The cooperation division produces practically complete S-76C helicopters for the American company Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, gun-bay door assemblies for the supersonic F/A-18E/F for Boeing, B767 fixed leading-edge assembly kits for Spirit of Great Britain, and the C-27J Spartan central wing box for the Italian firm Alenia Aeronautica.

AERO's most popular aircraft is the L-39, of which more than 2,900 were produced. First flown on 4 November 1968, the L-39 served as the basic training plane for pilots in Warsaw Pact countries. Its rising popularity among private owners led, for example, to the introduction of a special category defined according to the L-39's parameters at the National Championship Air Races, which have been held in the American state of Nevada since 1964.
At the beginning of the 1990s, AERO introduced its next-generation L-159 light training plane. The company has prepared versions for the Czech Air Force as well as for the Egyptian and Tunisian air forces.
The latest models are the L-159A single-seat light combat aircraft and the tandem-seat L-159B trainer.

Contact:

Vitezslav Kulich, spokesman
phone: +420 255 76 3152
vitezslav.kulich@aero.cz

More about Penta Investments

Penta Investments is a Czech-Slovak investment group with a twelve-year history operating in the area of private equity, and is dedicated to the acquisition of large and medium-sized companies, their subsequent restructuring, and increasing their value. Assets administered by Penta exceed EUR 850 million, and the company employs over ten thousand people in its subsidiaries.

Contact:

Jana Studnickova, spokeswoman
phone.: +420 210 083 110
studnickova@pentainvestments.cz