Italy’s Leonardo acquires rotorcraft developer from Russian-backed company

Lynwood Investments, which is associated with Russian billionaire Alexander Mamut, sells its Kopter business to Italian manufacturer

Kopter The SH09 has secured some 70 firm orders and around 120 letters of intent (Kopter)

Swiss-headquartered Lynwood Investments, which is associated with Russian billionaire financier Alexander Mamut, has sold 100 per cent of Kopter Group AG (nee Marenco SwissHelicopter), designer of the SH09 craft, a single-engine helicopter to Italian manufacturer Leonardo.

The deal, which is “subject to certain conditions” according to a Leonardo statement, is expected to be closed in the first quarter of this year. “The purchase price, on a cash and debt free basis, consists of a US$185 million fixed component plus an earn-out mechanism linked to certain milestones over the life of the programme, starting from 2022,” the statement reads.

Kopter will remain an autonomous legal entity within Leonardo’s helicopter division.

With this acquisition Leonardo will satisfy its smaller, single-engine helicopter niche with an innovative product replacing the investment it would have otherwise made into such a development. It is also hoping to benefit from Kopter’s special competences, namely “more disruptive technologies, mission capabilities and performances, including innovative hybrid/electrical propulsion solutions,” the Leonardo statement adds. “With this acquisition we will bring on board innovative skills and technologies that will complement our own and will also contribute to keeping us at the forefront of innovation and competitiveness whilst maintaining our financial solidity,” comments Alessandro Profumo, Leonardo’s chief executive.

Primarily based in Switzerland, Kopter has been in business since 2009, operating originally as Marenco SwissHelicopter. Developed from scratch, its SH09 programme was launched “to bring new capabilities and modern design to the civil market with a most cost-effective and versatile platform, combining the latest technologies and safety features with excellent performance at affordable cost for a variety of applications.”

The first SH09 prototype flew in 2014 and, with certification expected this year, the company has currently frozen its latest updated configuration. The final assembly site is set to be in Lafayette, Louisiana. The SH09 has secured some 70 firm orders and around 120 letters of intent.

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