Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sabreliner CEO to leave troubled firm

Sabreliner Corp.'s chief executive, Holmes Lamoreaux, and another top executive will leave the company as a new owner takes over the struggling defense contractor.

The Clayton-based company said a “new entity” has acquired the debt of Sabreliner's primary lender and plans to take control company's assets and continue operations, according to a press release sent this morning.

As a result, Lamoreux and Susan Aselage, Sabreliner's president and vice chairman, will leave the company. Sabreliner also said the new owner is expected to meet with employees in the coming weeks.

"Today, Sabreliner Corp. begins its next chapter,” Lamoreaux said in a statement. “We were never able to replace the significant business lost during (government) sequestration. As a result, we haven’t been able to repay the company’s bank debt so the bank has sold it to another enterprise. Sabreliner soon will be operating under new management.”

The new owner is a firm called Sabreliner Service LLC, which was formed last week in Florida, according to Secretary of State filings there, and gives an address at Perryville Municipal Airport, where Sabreliner has a plant. It is managed by a Naples, Fla.-based investment group called Innovative Capital Holdings LLC which, according to its website, specializes in "the acquisition and restructuring of distressed or underperforming businesses." A message left Tuesday with Innovative Capital chief executive Bob Stockard was not returned.

Despite the financial problems, Sabreliner said it has won new contracts for its operations in Ste. Genevieve and Perryville, Mo., where more than a dozen military and corporate aircraft are getting maintenance.

Sabreliner has been a privately held corporation since 1983, when a group of investors led by Lamoreux purchased the Sabreliner Division of Rockwell International.

The company's initial goal was to support the existing fleet of Sabreliner aircraft with maintenance and modification services, while supporting other types of aircraft and their operators, including the U.S. and foreign militaries.

Services later expanded to include maintenance, repair and overhaul of aircraft, as well as manufacturing support for older aircraft and new aircraft production.

Employees and union officials said Monday that the company's new ownership is Sabreliner Services LLC. One employee said the company’s roughly 100 remaining workers would be made by the new owners to reapply for their jobs but details were unavailable.

Employees were first notified of the management changes late Friday, said Larry Tinker, president of the Teamsters Local 600 in Maryland Heights, which represents about 70 workers at Sabreliner’s plants in Perryville and Ste. Genevieve.

The company had “defaulted on its debt and was unable to remedy the default,” Tinker said. But there were yet few details on what that would mean for employees.

“I’m still trying to get to the bottom of it myself,” he said.

Teamsters ratified a new contract in August.

Sabreliner has had a rough few years amid Pentagon spending cuts and other struggles. Its workforce shrank by about 250 in eight months in late 2012 and early 2013, by about 250 in eight months in late 2012 and early 2013, between layoffs, retirements and attrition. It’s down to about 10 employees at its Clayton headquarters and about 100 at its two remaining plants, according to a former spokeswoman.

Late last year, Sabreliner, sold buildings in St. Mary and Ste. Genevieve, according to the Ste. Genevieve Herald. It has faced a barrage of debt-collection suits in local courts. On Friday, it agreed to a $192,000 settlement in a suit brought by a lenders in Perry County Court. The deal, according to documents in that case, allows Sabreliner to stay in its facility at the Perryville airport for another month. Tinker said he hoped to get more information this week.

“We’re still trying to figure out what’s going on.”

Source:   http://www.stltoday.com

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