2nd April 2020

French aircraft maintenance company finds creative financing partner

How Pemberton helped a leading aircraft maintenance and modification business to expand thanks to a leveraged buy-out.

The background

Founded in 1968 by the Marchais family, France’s Sabena Technics had become a European leader in providing civil and military clients with high-added value aircraft maintenance and modification (MRO) services. It generated a turnover of approximately €450m in 2018 and had 2,800 qualified employees in 14 sites worldwide.

The company was operating in a dynamic market, at the very centre of the challenges facing civil and military aircraft operators. However, as a family-owned business, Sabena Technics faced certain constraints and limitations.

Expanding beyond the family business

The Marchais family decided that, in order to expand the business, they wanted to partner with pan-European institutional investors, while remaining active minority shareholders. They did this through a primary leveraged buy-out that included new shareholders Sagard (a renowned mid-cap, French private equity firm), BPI France (a French public bank) and TowerBrook (a pan-European sponsor with strong sector expertise). Each shareholder contributed a distinct expertise critical for Sabena Technics’ future growth.

Pemberton's solution

For several years Sabena Technics had been financed by a pool of French banks that all strongly supported the buy-out and were prepared to arrange its financing. However, both the management team and the new shareholders decided to partner with Pemberton based on our flexibility, reactivity and ability to contribute significant build-up resources.

Our pedigree as a conservative, long-term financing partner, primarily backed by large European insurance companies and pension funds, was a significant factor in the company management and sponsors’ decision to entrust us with the position as sole financier for this benchmark transaction.

Through this customized financing structure, Sabena Technics has the flexibility it needs to enable management and shareholders to seize each development opportunity and create a truly global MRO leader. The deal demonstrates once again Pemberton’s role as a trusted, experienced and creative partner for European borrowers.