Thielert AG is a German engine development and manufacturing company. It is headquartered in Hamburg, with additional sites in Lichtenstein, Saxony and Altenburg, Thuringia. It is quoted on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange as a member of the SDAX. All published revenue figures are now under scrutiny by serious fraud investigators. Main unit Thielert Aircraft Engines GmbH declared insolvency on April 24th. 2008 According to the Thielert Holding, a restructuring is no longer possible.
Thielert is most well known as the manufacturer of the Centurion range of aircraft diesel engines using jet fuel. Two engine models are currently available, the Centurion 2.0 with a power output of either 135 hp (101 kW) or 155 hp (116 kW) (the latter variant is called the Centurion 2.0 S) and the 350 hp (261 kW) Centurion 4.0. A third model, the 230 hp (172 kW) Centurion 3.2 was announced for 2008, but as of July 2008 had not been publicly unveiled.
Thielert is furthermore involved in the market for conventional petrol aircraft piston engines as made by Textron Lycoming and Teledyne Continental via its US subsidiary Superior Air Parts, Coppell, Texas, which designs and distributes (but does not manufacture) spare parts for these engines as an alternative to original spares. Many of these parts, like crankshafts, are made by Thielert for its subsidiary. Superior Air Parts also offers a family of four-cylinder aircraft engines, ranging in power output from 150-250 hp (112-187 kW), which are primarily targeted at the homebuilt aircraft market.
A third field of activity is contract engine development and manufacture of engine parts for prototypes and small series for the automotive industry.
As a result of these events the company's stock dropped to a record low of 3.65 euros from previous highs of 25.22 euros on the German stock market.
On April 11, 2008 it was announced that the company Board of Directors had fired company founder and CEO Frank Thielert, as well as Chief Financial Officer Roswitha Grosser. "Anyone who was surprised has been sleeping for the past weeks," Jochen Klusmann, an analyst at BHF Bank in Frankfurt told Bloomberg News. "The bottom line is the company has booked relatively high sales and profit, but never has had good cash flow." The company has sold off 24.4 million Euros to cover immediate financial requirements.
On April 24th it was announced that the board had dismissed "with cause" company founder Frank Thielert and also cancelled his employment contract, due to evidence found during a criminal investigation by the Hamburg Office of Criminal Investigation. The allegations include that false invoices had been written, which were used to boost accounts receivable and create the appearance of a better financial position for the company.
In April 2008 the company's stock price fell to 0.36 Euros after having been as high as 25.22.
In April 2008 a stockholder restructuring plan was put on hold. A company statement said: "Investors which had intended to support the company in the implementation of the planned restructuring package under certain conditions, have informed the company on April 23, 2008 that they are no longer willing to provide such support. The restructuring measures to deal with the company's liquidity crisis, as mentioned in the disclosure announcement of April 9, 2008, therefore cannot be implemented as planned."
On 24 April 2008 Thielert Aircraft Engines GmbH - responsible for all engine production - filed for insolvency at the Chemnitz County Court.
By April 25, 2008 an attempted sale of shares to improve the company's immediate liquidity had seen those shares fall in value by as much as 14 percent in pre-market trading, as a result of the aircraft engine division filing for insolvency.
As the situation deepened, the Thierlert board stated on 26 April 2008: "The going concern of Thielert Aircraft Engines GmbH can only be ensured permanently by restructuring activities with the support of investors, due to the fact that the Holding Thielert AG is not capable to do so anymore." The company announced that it would name a new executive board and an interim insolvency trustee who will present a plan to creditors. The acceptance of this plan will be crucial to the survival of the company.
It was announced on 01 May 2008 that the board has appointed a new CEO, lawyer Marcel Kleib. Lawyer Achim Ahrendt of Hamburg has been appointed to oversee the insolvency proceedings. On May 5, 2008 bankruptcy administrator attorney Bruno M. Kubler issued a letter to company customers indicating that the business will continue to operate producing engines and parts. The company will fulfill existing orders to maintain viability and also to preserve its capability to reorganize.
On May 14, 2008 Thielert announced that it will no longer honour engine warranties for engines installed in Diamond Aircraft. Owners who require warranty work will be required to pay cash in advance for parts that they need. This announcement has caused a negative reaction from Diamond DA42 owners. Diamond Aircraft has not yet determined if it is able to honour the warranties in place of the engine manufacturer.
On June 18, 2008 the company announced that it was resuming production of all its diesel engine products, with a production target of 80 units per month. Thielert is guaranteeing all engines delivered against defective materials and labor, but parts prices remain at the previously announced high levels. Bruno M. Kubler, the company's insolvency administrator also announced that they will soon choose investors from the list of 50 prospective buyers.
On 10 July 2008 Diamond Aircraft announced that it was dropping out of the bidding to purchase Theilert, citing that Thielert is witholding key information that Diamond thought was "vital to the due diligence process." Thielert expressed disagreement with Diamond's statements. Thielert is of the opinion that the bidding process complies with international standards. They also indicated that if Diamond had signed a confidentiality agreement they would would have been provided with the "comprehensive information" they sought. On Friday 11 July 2008, Thielert issued a press release stating: "the reasons Diamond is presenting for its non-participation are clearly pretext". Thielert implies that Diamond is not a serious prospective buyer and that "Diamond's actions clearly serve the purpose of derogating Thielert's reputation in the naive assumption to be able to subsequently purchase Thielert far under value."
In September 2008 Theilert's insolvency administrator Bruno Kubler announced that purchase offers had been received from several "well-known investors."
Thielert Engine Owners Group co-founder Dr. Todd House responded to this news saying:
We're pleased with the positive investor response in Thielert and we have every confidence that the bidders will want to honor the company's commitments to its customers.
Thielert Engine Owners Group co-founder Vilis Ositis also stated:
Any investor that ignores Thielert's customer commitments will be facing a very unhospitable business environment. The first step for any new Thielert owner will be to honor the company's commitments to aircraft operators who bought into Thielert's vision of a dependable, efficient, aircraft turbo-diesel engine. Not only is that the right thing to do, but it would diminish the threat of potential lawsuits, political action and consumer boycotts the company could face from existing Thielert engine owners.
As part of its insolvency, Thielert has indicated that it will not honor warranties or inspect and replace life-limited parts as was the case when the engines were sold to customers. This change in policy has resulted in Thielert-powered aircraft being grounded or no longer economically viable to fly.
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