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Exclusive: Ansett name to live on, say new training owners

written by Hannah Dowling | January 18, 2022

The legendary name of Ansett is set to live on after the consortium looking to purchase its simulation training business said it had no plans to change its branding.

Speaking exclusively with Australian Aviation, Arcadia Capital partner Sam Walker said “practically speaking”, there will be “no changes at all” to Ansett Aviation Training (AAT) after the deal is finalised, including to its management team.

The Ansett airline collapsed in 2001 after 65 years of service but its training business lived on and has subsequently switched owners a number of times.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will also have to clear the latest deal, given one member of the consortium is Bain Capital Credit – notably a subsidiary of Bain Capital, the recent purchaser of Virgin Australia.

“Really, we view this as a balance sheet problem for a business that just ended up with too much debt to service through the pandemic, due to reduced demand during that period,” Walker said.

“So, there’s nothing operationally that we say management needs to do differently.”

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Instead, Walker said the consortium’s takeover is simply a “resetting of the capital structure” to help Ansett Aviation Training generate enough cash to update and expand its simulators, ready for the impending uptick in demand for training services.

When asked if the new owners would consider rebranding the business away from the iconic Ansett brand, Walker said he “can’t imagine that happening”.

“It’s an iconic brand, with great recognition through the industry and around the world, so we’ve certainly got not plans nor had any conversations or thoughts about changing the brand.”

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In fact, Walker said the Ansett brand is partially what drew the consortium to the purchase of Ansett Aviation Training.

“It’s the history, as well as [the company’s] great asset base, that has gone through a once-in-a-generation pandemic which reduced the utilisation and the need for those assets.

“So, we can see that over the next number of years, as the aviation market picks up, those assets will once again be in demand and the business will be able to grow and prosper.”

The deal remains subject to regulatory approvals from both the ACCC, as well as the Foreign Investment Review Board.

Notably, Walker stated that the ACCC will take a deep dive into Bain Capital and Bain Capital Credit’s relative interests in Virgin Australia and Ansett Aviation Training, to see if any conflicts could occur.

However, Walker stated that the consortium is confident that no issues should be found.

“There really isn’t much of a concern about that from our side,” he said.

“They are separate funds of Bain’s, with separate pools of investors, so they won’t really have a concern with what another part of the Bain as that isn’t where they’ve put their money. They’re each incentivised separately.

Walker added: “We certainly won’t be letting anything happen to the business that, say, is in Virgin’s interest and not in Ansett Aviation’s interests.”

Comment (1)

  • Rod Pickin

    says:

    I congratulate Hannah for the follow up on her original article and it is pleasing to hear a positive view from Sam Walker. It does concern me however that the involvement of private equity groups/s indicates that the level of debt could be well outside of normal bankers comfort zone which could be a worry. It would be interesting to hear if, due to the Covid circumstances, whether the Fed. Govt/Minister were approached for some form of relief as this enterprise has a very serious position within our aviation profession.

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