Private equity firm City+Ventures invests in Mente Group

Alasdair Whyte

You would not have expected it last year, but 2021 is set to see record investment into the business aviation industry. We have Signature going private and Wheels Up and Blade going public. Today, we saw a new target for investors – an aircraft brokerage and consulting firm.

Omaha private equity firm City+Ventures, is investing in Mente Group and forming a new company Aquila Aviation Ventures. This is thought to be the first time a private equity firm has invested in a brokerage.

City+Ventures already owns Millbrook Air, a management and charter company at Stewart International Airport in New York. This will also be merged into Aquila Aviation.

Brian Proctor, founder of Mente Group, will become CEO of Aquila.

“Aquila Aviation Ventures will identify and invest in high-growth firms within the private aviation sector,” said Proctor, CEO  of Aquila. “As part of the partnership, Mente Group has been recapitalised, providing it with growth capital to expand its platform and provide new and innovative services. The Millbrook operation will serve as a launch point for new products and concepts, taking advantage of unfulfilled segments in aviation.”

Proctor stresses that the focus is not on becoming the largest operator.

“City+Ventures’ expertise identifying growth opportunities focused on exceptional customer experiences, along with Millbrook Air and its fleet of business jets are a perfect combination with Brian Proctor’s aviation expertise to propel Aquila Aviation Ventures to new heights in private aviation,” said Danny White, City+Ventures co-founder.

Historically, brokerages have been extremely hard to value and have rarely traded. The last significant transactions were the acquisition of Cerretani Aviation by NetJets in 2018 and Jetcraft buying ExecuJet’s aircraft sales division in 2013.

Private equity investors often hunt in packs and this transaction could encourage other private equity firms to look at brokerages. Although they should bear in mind that brokers like to negotiate.

 

Brian Proctor, founder of Mente Group, will become CEO of Aquila.

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