Viola Private Equity invests in UAV co Aeronautics

Viola is investing $20 million for a 10% stake.

Viola Private Equity will invest $20 million in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) manufacturer Aeronautics Defense Systems Ltd. Some of Aeronautics' current investors also participated in the financing round, which is expected to total $25 million.

Viola will acquire a 10% stake in Aeronautics, reflecting a company value of $200 million. The investment is subject to Aeronautics meeting milestones; if it fails to do so, Viola can receive more shares in the company.

Aeronautics develops and manufactures tactical UAVs for the armed forces and civilian agencies around the world. The company has several subsidiaries that produce a range of defense products and peripherals, including communications and sophisticated navigation systems, and innovative navigation equipment.

Two of Aeronautics owners, Avi and Aharon Shaked, are the controlling shareholders in online gaming company 888 Holding plc (LSE:888), which has a market cap of $497 million. Aeronautics third owner is CEO Avi Leumi.

Aeronautics once had plans to hold an IPO on the London Stock Exchange, but withdrew the plans when the capital market started to decline two years ago.

Viola focuses on equity investments in mature high-tech companies with global business. It manages $150 million and invests in private and public companies by acquiring stakes from shareholders. It is run by four partners: Harel Beit-On, Jonathan Kobler, Osnat Ronen, and Sami Totah.

Following the investment, Ronen and Totah will become directors of Aeronautics. Totah said, "Israel's defense exports are one area in which Israel has a clear advantage. Aeronautics' technological capabilities provide a response to growing global demand for reliable UAVs and advanced peripheral defense systems."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on August 5, 2009

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2009

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