Cinven today announces that it has agreed the sale of Avio Space Propulsion, the leading international operator in space launchers and space propulsion, to Space2 (IT: SPA2) and Leonardo-Finmeccanica (IT: LDO) together with Avio’s management. This represents a full realisation for Cinven from its shareholding in Avio Group.

Cinven originally acquired Avio (‘Avio Group’ or ‘the Group’) from Carlyle in December 2006, alongside Finmeccanica as a minority shareholder, for €2.57 billion. At the time of the acquisition, the Group comprised both aviation and space businesses. Avio Group was a world leader in the design, manufacture and servicing of components for commercial and military jet engines, as well as the production of space launcher Vega and propulsion systems for space vehicles such as the Ariane rocket.

Avio’s aviation business (‘Avio Aviation’) was sold to GE in August 2013 for a total consideration of €3.3 billion generating around €1 billion of value for the Fourth Cinven Fund. Following the acquisition of Avio’s aeroengine business (now called Avio Aero), GE committed a further US$1 billion in investments to the Avio Aero sites over the following five years.

The new company (Avio’s Space Propulsion business), which kept the name Avio is headquartered in Colleferro, Italy and has operations across Italy, in France and in French Guyana. It employs over 800 people, 30% of whom are involved in R&D activities. In 2015, Avio Space Propulsion generated revenues of €279.2 million (2014: €224.5 million) up 24.4%.

During Cinven’s ownership, Cinven has worked closely with the Avio Group’s management team to:

  • Position Avio’s aeroengine business to take advantage of the long-term structural growth in aviation, winning positions on some of the most promising aerospace programmes;
  • Achieve major operational improvements through the implementation of best practices; transitioning the Group to a highly successful stand-alone business, with excellent manufacturing performance levels;
  • Invest more than €700 million in R&D and a large number of capital expenditure programmes, including Vega, which is today recognised as the highly reliable European launcher for LEOs (Low Earth Orbits); and
  • Expand the business internationally. By working closely with the Cinven portfolio team in Asia, Cinven helped Avio aeroengine business set up two joint ventures with Xian Aero Engines and Avic Harbin Dong’an Engine – both state-controlled aerospace businesses in China. Cinven also helped Avio aeroengine business execute successful acquisitions in Brazil, the Netherlands and Poland.

Eugenio Preve, Senior Principal at Cinven, commented:

“When Cinven acquired Avio Group, it had a strong defensible market position given its technological leadership in key areas, long-term contracts and diversified business. It was also well positioned to capture increased market share in the promising new aerospace programmes, to improve its operating efficiencies and to expand internationally.”

“Avio is a good example of a successful industrial investment for Cinven. Today Avio is recognised as a standard setter for Italian technology innovation and plays an important strategic role in the global space industry. We are delighted that Space2 and Leonardo-Finmeccanica are acquiring Avio and will continue to invest in the business and its long-term growth. We wish the team every success.”

Giulio Ranzo, CEO of Avio, commented:

“Cinven’s investment in Avio has enabled the business to grow successfully; to capitalise on the exciting market opportunities in the space industry; and to continue investing in R&D to create sustainable growth in the future. We now look forward to working with Space2, alongside Finmeccanica, as our new shareholder, as we enter our next phase of growth.”

The completion of the sale of Avio is subject to customary regulatory approval.