Hangar8: The benefit of listing
It cost Hangar 8, the UK business jet manager, over £800,000 ($1.2 million) to float on London Stock Exchange’s Alternative Investment Market. A significant amount considering the total value of the shares it sold was about £2 million. But it has no regrets.
“It was a hell of a lot of money,” says Philip Brady, Hangar8’s chief financial officer, “but it has helped us win new customers. They appreciate the transparency and know that if they give us a £250,000 deposit they can be confident about getting it back.”
Although there are aircraft managers that are subsidiaries of listed companies, Hangar 8 is the only listed business jet manager in the 50 most active operators in the Avinode charter system. The only other listed aircraft manager in Europe is Perfect Aviation, which floated on the SIX Swiss Exchange, in 2009.
When Hangar8 floated in 2010 it said it would use the cash to pay for the cost of moving more light maintenance in-house and for acquisitions of smaller operators.
The maintenance project is underway. Hangar8 spends £3 million a year on outside maintenance and believes that it can save £2 million by bringing it in-house, with a net margin of 10%. It spent about £150,000 on this in 2010.
However, despite bidding for several operators it has been unable to agree either on price or on what Brady describers “the removal of toxic assets from the target company’s balance sheet”. He adds: “The main problem is the value gap, and in some cases where we have agreed the price operator’s trading has fallen and then you have to negotiate again. As operating regulations become tougher and tougher we expect to see more opportunities with legislation closing out smaller operators.”
He says they are also looking at setting up new business organically. Hangar 8 is firmly targeting emerging markets. “We have established an operating base in Nigeria and are looking at a base in Central Asia,” says Brady. “One way that we are reducing risk is through selling a contract with guaranteed hours to other charterers. It also allows us to investigate new markets.”
It is also considering adding a Maltese aircraft operating certificate as it is a convenient base for North Africa. “We are seeing double-digit growth in North Africa.”
Hangar 8 has grown significantly in its first 14 months year as a listed company (it changed its financial year-end). It added 13 aircraft between November 2010 and June 2011, growing the total fleet to 32 aircraft. However, as five of these were new types it had to invest in pilot training and other costs so its profit (excluding the IPO) did not rise in line with the gain in turnover. Brady says they have invested about £250,000 in expanding the business overseas and in new asset types.
“We have grown a lot, invested a lot and expanded geographically,” says Brady. “There is a life-cycle cost to new aircraft where you have to invest in people first and get the returns later.”
Brady joined the company in 2010, partly to add financial strength and manage investors, but how is the founder Dustin Dryden finding running a listed company? “Some days he hates it,” says Brady. “But mostly he loves it.”
Hangar8 financial summary
Adjusted PBT (£’000s)
Hangar8’s business jet fleet