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New Mezzanine Fund Invests in West Chester-based Keystone Helicopter

11/17/2003
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

King of Prussia, PA – November 17, 2003 – Merion Investment Partners, L.P., a newly established $75 million mezzanine-level investment fund, announced today its first investment in Keystone Helicopter, one of the largest and oldest helicopter services companies in the United States. Keystone operates a large fleet of turbine helicopters primarily running medical aid mission across the US. It currently operates a technical services depot and completion center near Philadelphia, and is building new, even larger facilities near Chester Country Airport, Pennsylvania. The amount and terms of the investment were not disclosed.

Merion Investment Partners’ participation is part of a round of institutional investment, which also included Brown Brothers Harriman of New York and Spring Capital Partners of Baltimore, Md.

“Keystone Helicopter is our first investment and it is a perfect fit for our ‘traditional’ investment philosophy,” said William M. Means, Managing Partner of Merion Investment Partners. “Keystone Helicopter has everything we look for – a strong foothold in a specialty manufacturing niche market with a proven management team and strategic competitive advantage.”

Merion Investment Partners has attracted significant participation from key institutional investors, including Fleet Bank, Wachovia Bank, MBNA, Philadelphia Insurance Company, First Financial Bank, and the City of Philadelphia Pension Fund. The fund was established to provide non-control mezzanine capital with minimal equity dilution to successful middle market companies in the Mid-Atlantic region. Mezzanine financing is the “middle ground” of a company’s capital structure that is between senior debt and common equity. It is especially useful for growing companies that have reached the limits of their bank borrowing capacities. Properly structured mezzanine financing is regarded as equity by senior lenders, but minimizes equity dilution for the shareholders.

“We welcome Merion Investment Partners’ investment experience, managerial guidance, and capital resources as we continue to grow Keystone Helicopter internally as well as through follow-on acquisitions,” said Steve Townes, CEO of Keystone Helicopter and founder of parent organization Ranger Aerospace. “These very substantial investment companies collectively give us the financing firepower that we need to grow our company significantly. Quality is the key word here – these are quality partners invested in a company which has built its 50 year reputation on providing quality service.”

Mezzanine financing is the “middle ground” of a company’s capital structure that is between senior debt and common equity. It is especially useful for growing companies that have reached the limits of their bank borrowing capacities. Properly structured mezzanine financing is regarded as equity by senior lenders, but minimizes equity dilution for the shareholders.

EDITORS NOTE: Exact terms of this large private “mezzanine” investment will not be disclosed. Keystone Helicopter was acquired in January 2002, by a Philadelphia group of aviation investors led by Ranger Aerospace LLC. Institutional investors include Ranger Aerospace, Meridian Venture Partners, Argosy Investment Partners, and CD Ventures, in addition now to Brown Brothers Harriman, Spring Capital, and Merion Capital, all collectively invested in a holding company called Keystone Ranger Holdings, Inc.

About Keystone Helicopters Keystone Helicopter is one of the largest and oldest helicopter services companies in the United States. Founded in 1953, Keystone operates a large fleet of turbine helicopters in multiple locations across several eastern states, primarily in the air medical mission. The firm also operates a large technical services depot and completion center near Philadelphia, and is building new, even larger facilities near Chester Country Airport, Pennsylvania.

Keystone Helicopter is owned by Keystone Ranger Holdings, Inc., a Philadelphia-area private equity investment organization that specializes in aviation-related ventures. The venture consortium is led by Ranger Aerospace LLC, and includes Meridian Venture Partners, Argosy Investment Partners, CD Ventures, and other private investors.

Ranger Aerospace LLC, headquartered in suburban Philadelphia, is a privately held investment and management holding company with private equity institutions, venture capital companies, and management as shareholders. Ranger and its co-investors add value to acquired companies via seasoned veterans experienced in aviation services, aerospace programs, engineering, finance, corporate development, MIS, marketing & strategic planning, Total Quality Management, mergers & acquisitions, post-merger integration, and turnarounds. Ranger’s previous successful aviation ventures include Aircraft Service International Group (www.asig.com), one of the world’s largest airfield services companies.

For more information Click Here for Keystone Helicopter on the Web and Click Here for Ranger Aerospace on the Web.

About Merion Investment Partners, L.P.
Founded in 2003, Merion Investment Partners LP is a mezzanine capital fund licensed by the Small Business Administration (“SBA”) as a Small Business Investment Company (“SBIC”). Merion invests mezzanine debt with equity features in companies that have strong growth potential, proven management teams, a strategic competitive advantage and/or are operating in sectors of the economy that are poised to exhibit growth.

Collectively, the principals of Merion Investment Partners have decades of experience in venture capital, commercial banking, investment banking, operating management and entrepreneurship. The company is headquartered in The Merion Building in King of Prussia, PA. For more information Click Here for Merion in the Web.

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