Chinese aviation company AVIC buys AIM Altitude

Posted on 3 Dec 2015 by Michael Cruickshank

UK-based aerospace cabin outfitter AIM Altitude announced last month that it would be acquired by a Chinese company.

In a statement the company announced that a deal had been confirmed whereby it would be fully acquired by Chinese multinational aerospace firm AVIC Aerospace International Corporation.

AVIC acquired AIM Altitude from its former owners, TowerBrook Capital Partners, for an unspecified sum of money. TowerBrook itself had only recent bought AIM Altitude from Air New Zealand in 2014.

AIM Altitude expressed excitement with its new and more industry-established owners.

“This is a very exciting development for AIM Altitude as it combines our design, engineering and manufacturing expertise with the strengths of a major strategic aerospace business. We look forward to working with our new owners to grow the business further,” said Mark Edwards, CEO of AIM Altitude

Its Chinese counterpart pointed to AIM Altitude’s experience in cabin outfitting as a major reason for the acquisition.

“AIM Altitude’s expertise in cabin interiors will further extend our core capabilities and international competitiveness. We look forward to welcoming the AIM Altitude team and employees into the group,” said Xu Tongyu, vice president of AVIC International.

Defence technology questions

While AVIC did not allude to this in any official statement, AIM Altitude is also potentially of interest due to its defence credentials.

According to the company’s website, it has been involved in “numerous defence projects” including the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Merlin helicopter.

The Chinese government through its numerous front companies has been accused over the years of attempting to covertly acquire foreign military technology.

One fear is that AIM Altitude’s new owners could possibly pass on any military know-how to the Chinese government.

Given that the acquisition still has to be given final approval by regulators in January 2016, such fears could prove to make the deal a non-starter.

It is likely there will be significant investigation into exactly what systems AIM Altitude worked on, and whether it retains any access to restricted blueprints or technologies.