The largest aircraft manufacturer in the Czech Republic has changed owners after 15 years. In June of this year, Penta Investments signed a sale & purchase agreement with the Hungarian company HSC Aerojet Zrt. Along with Aero Vodochody, Penta also sold Letiště Vodochody, a.s.
“The development and preparation for the serial production of the L-39NG aircraft, which to date consumed investments in excess of CZK 3 billion, was fundamental for the future development of Aero. The aircraft’s certification became the trigger for our exit from Aero. We want to focus our energy on the key stratetgic companies in our portfolio going forward,” said Penta’s partner Marek Dospiva.
The new owners will control Aero through Vodochody Holdings HU, which is 100% owned by HSC Aerojet Zrt. Aero will continue developing all three pillars of its business, i.e. the production and development of its own aircraft, maintenance, repair & overhauls (MRO), and the supply of aircraft components to international customers. With the change of ownership, the Company’s management is also being changed. Viktor Sotona, the current CEO of the Pardubice company ERA, will become the president & chief executive officer. Under his leadership, ERA significantly strengthened its market position and doubled the number of its employees.
In 2006, Penta won Aero Vodochody in a privatization competition for almost CZK 3 billion. The company, which at that time had a loss of CZK 1 billion, underwent a significant restructuring and returned to an operating profit within a year. Over the next ten years, Aero successfully developed civil programs for international aircraft manufacturers, in particular for Boeing, Bombardier, Sikorski Aircraft Corporation and Embraer. In 2014, Penta decided to return to the production of its own aircraft. Omnipol, a.s., started the development and subsequent preparation for serial production of the L-39NG aircraft. Since 2016, the company has fallen into the red, mainly due to the loss of the Sikorski programme and heavy investments into the development of the new aircraft. The L-39NG was successfully certified in September 2020. Penta’s strategy also included the development of Vodochody Airport for low-cost civil transportation, but the new owner has announced that it is withdrawing from this plan. The airport will thus continue to serve only the needs of Aero Vodochody, or the Czech army with whom Aero has a signed contract on the possible use of the airport until 2026.