Los Angeles Business Journal

Maguire Sells Van Nuys Aviation Holdings

By Business Journal Staff Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Maguire Aviation, the largest tenant at Van Nuys Airport, has been sold to national aviation operator Signature Flight Support in a deal valued at $69 million.

The sale of Maguire’s assets, which includes leases for hangar and other space on 48 acres at the Valley airfield, will end real estate mogul Robert Maguire’s involvement in the aviation business at the airport but will continue as the developer on new hangar space.

Signature has a facility at Van Nuys for aircraft management and maintenance and fuel sales. The company is owned by British firm BBA Aviation plc.

Maguire Aviation began taking on leaseholds at Van Nuys Airport in 2006 with its purchase of Petersen Aviation. The firm later added to its holdings by buying up other aviation businesses, financed mostly by loans.

The recession, however, caused a dramatic drop in traffic at the airport. That, coupled with debts from other real estate holdings, led to financial struggles for Robert Maguire, who made his reputation developing office buildings, including the U.S. Bank Tower in downtown Los Angeles.

As he struggled financially, his company failed to make improvements to airport properties as required by the leases. The heavy borrowing, including loans from Pacific Western Bank and the R.E. & M. Petersen Living Trust, also led to legal problems. Pacific Western went to court in June to force Maguire Aviation into receivership, but that didn't happen.

Also, Maguire personally lost a business park and undeveloped property in Texas to foreclosure in 2011 after defaulting on $360 million in loans. And he sold shares in his former company, now called MPG Office Trust Inc., to make debt payments to Wells Fargo & Co.

When the sale closes by the end of the year, Signature will have nearly 2 million square feet of hangar, ramp, passenger lounges and offices space. Signature will also own and operate a terminal used by business aircraft operator NetJets Inc.

Simon Price, chief executive of BBA Aviation, said the acquisition is a reflection of the company’s growth strategy.