L-3 Communications Buys Pilot-Training Company for $220 Million

NEW YORK ( The Deal) -- Defense contractor L-3 Communications (LLL) said Thursday it has acquired U.K.-based CTC Aviation Group Ltd. in a £143 million ($220 million) deal to boost the company's efforts to grow internationally and expand its commercial operations.

CTC provides pilot and crew training services to major airlines and other customers, employing 265. Its sales are expected to be $86 million in 2015 and $95 million in 2016. The company, which was sold by Inflexion Private Equity Partners LLP, will be rebranded as L-3 CTC Ltd. and folded into the buyer's electronic-systems business.

New York-based L-3 was once an active acquirer, and defense bankers have said the company has a growing appetite for assets that will help it diversify its U.S. military base. L-3 Chairman and CEO Michael T. Strianese called the purchase of CTC "a very good fit with our strategy of expanding our international and commercial presence by focusing on higher-margin businesses with No. 1 or 2 positions in the markets we serve."

L-3 already owns Link UK, a provider of flight-training simulation devices. The company said it expects the two operations to retain their individual brands, but said there are opportunities for collaboration.

"L-3 CTC has a worldwide reputation for excellence and strengthens our Link Simulation & Training and Link UK businesses with value-added synergies for total training solutions across a wide range of military and commercial platforms," Strianese said. "This addition will solidify L-3's position as a global leader in commercial flight simulation and training, while delivering value to our customers and shareholders."

Inflexion announced the sale as the firm was launching a new aerospace venture, forming a partnership with Auctus Industries to acquire Shimtech Industries Ltd. for $220 million. The firm acquired CTC in 2012, and said it generated a return of three times its original investment on the sale.

The firm said that under its ownership CTC brought in additional management and expanded its training capacity and infrastructure, including new crew training centers in both the U.S. and United Kingdom.

"Working alongside a truly ambitious management team, we oversaw a doubling in the number of airline pilot trainees enrolled and investment of over £15 million in additional simulators and aircraft," Inflexion managing partner John Hartz said. "The business boasts a truly unrivaled customer base and is poised to continue its global expansion. We wish the team every success under new ownership."

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