Kenn Ricci: the investor

Alasdair Whyte
By Alasdair Whyte January 23, 2015 12:53

Kenn Ricci: the investor

Kenn Ricci is No. 1 on the Corporate Jet Investor Power List 2015.

Kenn Ricci was 25 when he made his first aviation acquisition. Corporate Wings had a Piper Navajo with a Part 135 Certificate and an owner looking to move out of the business. Ricci paid $27,000 to acquire the business and ran it while at law school. He decided he could make more from aviation, so he never practiced law.

Since then, Ricci and his company Directional Aviation Capital have bought (and occasionally) sold companies across the whole of the aviation industry – ranging from aircraft operators, FBOs, maintenance, charter, fractional, parts, aircraft broking and finance to re-manufacturing. With a close-knit team including Mike Rossi, Directional’s CFO, who was Corporate Wing’s accountant, and Mike Silvestro, CEO of Flight Options, a school friend of Ricci’s – Directional is always looking for its next deal.

In the last five years, two deals have completely transformed Directional: the (re)acquisition of Flight Options in 2009 and the acquisition of FlexJet from Bombardier in 2013. “Flight Options was a risk,” says Ricci. “FlexJet was a home run.”

With the FlexJet integration almost complete, Ricci is now looking for his next move.

Directional is also an important buyer of aircraft. It placed an order and options for up to 245 Bombardier business jets as part of it acquisition of FlexJet. In October 2014, he ordered 50 new Gulfstream aircraft for Flexjet – 25 years after Ricci became a GII captain.

The Gulfstream order was significant for lots of reasons – and not just because it was FlexJet’s first non-Bombardier order (Ricci says this was partly because it was unable to order Globals because Bombardier had given an exclusive to a competitor). As well as being a launch customer of the G500, Flexjet will also be the first fractional to offer the G650. Along with Qatar Executive, Flexjet’s order also show how Gulfstream has changed its sales strategy, compared with the G650.

It also demonstrates the transformation of Directional Capital in the last five years. Ricci and his partners have not wasted a downturn.

Alasdair Whyte
By Alasdair Whyte January 23, 2015 12:53

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