Asia’s super-rich eye bargains as second-hand jet market soars

The second-hand purchases that began last year has hardened amid slowing economic growth in the region, while cost-conscious Chinese buyers have shunned flashy symbols of wealth. (Reuters)
Updated 20 April 2018
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Asia’s super-rich eye bargains as second-hand jet market soars

  • Pre-owned jet prices have also seen a steep drop in the past two years
  • It is also helping to firm prices by reducing an oversupply of used business jets on the global market

SHANGHAI: Asia’s super-wealthy are increasingly opting for second-hand private jets rather than buying new ones, as private buyers look for deep discounts and shorter waiting times, aircraft brokers said.
Buyers from the region bought 61 pre-owned aircraft and 54 new jets in 2017, marking the first time second-hand purchases outstripped new orders, according to a report by aviation consultancy Asian Sky Media.
It underscores how a trend that began last year has hardened amid slowing economic growth in the region, while cost-conscious Chinese buyers have shunned flashy symbols of wealth.
Brokers said customers included Chinese companies, which were buying such jets to support overseas expansion and opting for used planes to keep costs down. Pre-owned jet prices have also seen a steep drop in the past two years, they said.
“Customers have changed, their knowledge of the industry has changed and they now understand the value of a pre-owned aircraft,” Jeffrey Lowe, managing director of consultancy Asian Sky Media, said on the sidelines of the Asian Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition in Shanghai this week.
“The market has had an abundance of supply of late, so they were able to find good airplanes at good prices too which were not necessarily all that old and still under warranty. So that has certainly spurred the market.”
Planemakers such as General Dynamics Corp’s Gulfstream and Bombardier Inc. have reduced production in recent years as market demand contracted and they worked on releasing new models, resulting in longer waiting times for buyers.
“The market base has grown,” said David Dixon, president of business jet brokerage Jetcraft Asia.
“Some people who don’t want to spend $60-65 million on one of these, can spend $40 million instead. There’s a lot you can do with $20 million.”
Industry executives said however, that this shift was not negative for planemakers such as Gulfstream and Bombardier, as it was helping to firm prices by reducing an oversupply of used business jets on the global market.
Customers were also attracted by new models being pushed out by planemakers, brokers said.
At the show, Gulfstream showed off its newest G500 and G600 jets, while Bombardier displayed a mock-up of its upcoming Global 7000 long-range plane.
Gulfstream, which rivals Bombardier for the largest share of the Asia-Pacific private jet fleet, said it was confident in the market and that growing maturity of the region’s buyers was a plus for the US planemaker.
“There’s a realization now that these airplanes are really being used for business, they’re business tools,” said Gulfstream’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Sales, Scott Neal.


Slack primed as latest unicorn to make market debut

Updated 19 June 2019
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Slack primed as latest unicorn to make market debut

  • Slack is a cloud-based software company that markets online tools for information sharing and workflow management
  • Current customers include Nordstrom, Ford and HSBC and the company has more than 95,000 paid customers overall

NEW YORK: The 2019 parade of big new Wall Street entrants continues this week with the debut of Slack Technologies, underscoring investor hunger for new companies in spite of some high-profile stumbles.
Nearly halfway through the year, US markets are on track for one of the biggest IPO seasons ever in terms of money raised following a stream of offerings from former “unicorns,” private companies worth more than $1 billion.
Yet two of this year’s biggest names — Uber and Lyft — currently trade below their IPO price, along with Snapchat, which has lagged its initial price for most of the time since it went public in March 2017.
Still, there have also been plenty of prominent companies that have risen since their initial public offerings, including jeans company Levi’s, Tradeweb Markets, which builds electronic marketplaces, Zoom Video Communications, and mobile application and software system Pinterest.
The most dramatic jump has been in food company Beyond Meat, which now trades at more than six-fold its entering price.
“The public has a huge interest” in new companies, said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade, adding that the mixed performance of the 2019 ex-unicorn class is comparable to that of the broader market.
“There aren’t a lot of other choices besides IPOs for investors seeking growth,” said Gregori Volokhine, president of Meeschaert Financial Services, who attributes the rush of funds in part to central bank policies promoting liquidity.
“There’s an excess of underinvested funds worldwide,” he said.
In terms of sheer volume, the number of IPOs in 2019 so far — 93 — is roughly equal to last year’s figure, according to Dealogic.
But the funds raised, $34.5 billion, stand 13.6 percent above last year’s sum and the highest for the comparable period since 2000, according to Dealogic data.

Direct listing
A cloud-based software company that markets online tools for information sharing and workflow management, San Francisco-based Slack parts ways from the other big companies this year by opting for a direct listing instead of an IPO.
This approach, which was also employed by Spotify last year, cuts down on fees to investment bankers in IPOs. Although existing shares can be sold, a direct listing does not issue new shares, averting share dilution but also forgoing the new funds raised in an IPO.
The process can also be riskier in terms of share price volatility compared with an IPO, where underwriters line up investors in advance. In a direct listing, shares are exposed more directly to the open market.
Slack chief executive and co-founder Stewart Butterfield described the company’s technologies as a “brand new category of software” that replaces email in a company.
Current customers include Nordstrom, Ford and HSBC and the company has more than 95,000 paid customers overall.
“It turns email to messages and organizes them into team, project and topic based channels instead of individual in-boxes,” Butterfield said in a June 10 earnings conference call.
“It’s a team-first approach to communication, in contrast to email’s individual first approach. It creates a rich, searchable, permanent body of information that’s widely available across an organization, even for people who just joined the team.”
 

Unprofitable three years
The company, which is expected to be valued at around $17 billion when it enters the market on Thursday, reported revenues of $134.8 million in the quarter ending April 30, up 66.7 percent from the year-ago period.
But Slack, which has been unprofitable the last three years, reported a $33.3 million loss during the period, 34 percent more than last year’s loss.
Of course, many unprofitable companies have gone public and done well in markets for years. Yet the heavy losses and murky profit outlook at Uber and Lyft have been seen as factors in their lackluster performance since going public.
But investors remain keen on growth stories following the success of Amazon, Facebook and other tech giants that have emerged in recent decades.
A key beneficiary of this desire has been Beyond Meat, which has multiplied in value many times since going public May 3 at $25 and currently is priced at $168.92. The company has been seen as a main beneficiary of the growing alternative protein market, which some analysts think could top $100 billion in the coming decade or so.
Kinahan said in general investors have wised up after the early 2000s Internet bubble but that “it’s just unnatural” for stocks like Beyond Meat to move in an unbroken straight line upwards.
“There’s a healthy bit of skepticism in the market,” he said. “However, certain companies have maybe gotten a little ahead of themselves.”