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Global FBO leader may change hands

An aircraft is fueled at Signature Flight Support in Frederick, Maryland, in 2016. Signature Aviation has more than doubled its worldwide footprint in recent years, and rival suitors seek ownership of the company. Photo by Mike Collins.

Signature Flight Support and related FBO brands are ubiquitous at airports serving general aviation, and increased demand for private air travel created by the coronavirus pandemic has made the company attractive to rival investors.

Reuters reported that Signature Aviation’s share price jumped 9 percent January 11 amid speculation that the $4.63 billion bid would prompt a counteroffer. 

British government regulations establish a January 14 deadline for a firm offer to counter the $4.63 billion offered by Global Infrastructure Partners, or $5.50 per share. That cash offer from the investment fund that used to own Gatwick Airport in London, and still manages a 49.99-percent stake in that airport on behalf of investors, exceeds a previous bid from private equity giant Blackstone, and Cascade Investment, a firm that manages much of the wealth of billionaire and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.

A Signature Aviation spokesman told Reuters that nothing precludes rival suitors, including Blackstone and Cascade, which agreed to join forces on a bid, or private equity giant Carlyle, from submitting higher offers.

Signature Aviation notes on its website that the company manages 13 million square feet of hangar, terminal, and office space in the United States.

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