Leonardo Buys Kopter In $185 Million Deal

Credit: Tony Osborne

ANAHEIM, California—Leonardo Helicopters will take over fledgling Swiss rotorcraft manufacturer Kopter Group in a $185 million deal.

The announcement was made Jan. 28 at HAI Heli-Expo 2020, sponsored by Helicopter Association International, held here Jan. 27-30.

The deal, unveiled at the close of business on the Italian stock exchange, will see Leonardo acquire 100% of the company from its current owner Lynwood.

Additional payments linked to certain milestones over the life of the program could also be earned.

Leonardo says Kopter will continue to operate autonomously and in coordination with the Italian parent. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020.

The agreement provides additional security for the development of Kopter’s SH09 single-engine light helicopter and gives Leonardo a new member of its product line. 

Leonardo’s single-engine product line currently consists of the AW119Kx Koala, a derivative of which was selected in January as the U.S. Navy’s new rotary-wing trainer.

“Kopter is very excited to have won with Leonardo, a solid industrial investor,” said Andreas Loewenstein, Kopter’s CEO. “Within Leonardo, we get the support to finalize our development on various fronts while keeping the ability to remain the agile single-engine pioneer that we are.”

“We are proud to welcome this innovative company as an integral part of our world-leading helicopter business,” said Gian Piero Cutillo, managing director of Leonardo Helicopters.

“It complements perfectly our existing product portfolio, adding a promising rotorcraft that will greatly benefit from our industrial know-how, service and training experience and commercial network.”

“Lynwood is very proud to have strongly supported the development of Kopter and its SH09 program over the past 10 years,” said Marina Groenberg, CEO of Lynwood.

“It is now the right time for Leonardo to take over, as they are a perfect match for Kopter at this stage of development,” Groenberg said.

Kopter Group started life as Marenco Swisshelicopter, unveiling the SH09 design in 2011 and flying the first prototype in 2014. Today the company is making progress with the third prototype and has pinned down a final configuration. Kopter has also secured a future site for final assembly in Lafayette, Louisiana. In addition, it has agreements in place with Korea Aerospace Industries to look at potential marketing and final assembly opportunities in South Korea. The aircraft has already secured more than 70 firm orders and around 120 letters of intent, securing the first three years of production.

Certification of the SH09 is expected in 2020. 

Tony Osborne

Based in London, Tony covers European defense programs. Prior to joining Aviation Week in November 2012, Tony was at Shephard Media Group where he was deputy editor for Rotorhub and Defence Helicopter magazines.