Oct. 11--A recent online news story reporting the Kerrville-based Mooney Aviation Company is on the verge of being sold to a Chinese real estate developer is being treated with a mixture of skepticism and excitement by owners of Mooney planes, and the company itself has declined to indicate whether a buyout is pending.
According to an article published on Chinese-based CRI.com and disseminated widely throughout the Internet in the last few days, an anonymous executive of Meijing Group said the U.S. Department of Treasury's Committee of Foreign Investment signed off this month on a proposed deal for Meijing Group to buy Mooney.
According to reports, the company would produce aircraft, supply components and carry out second-hand aircraft trading and renovation, focusing on Asian markets.
"I've seen the news reports, and we are not in a position to comment on those new reports," Barry Hodkin, Mooney Aviation Company chief financial officer, said Thursday. "But when we have news to pass out, we will issue a press release at that point."
Holly Shulman, U.S. Treasury Department spokeswoman, declined to comment on the matter, saying the law prohibits her from disclosing information filed with the committee to the public.
Many in the aviation world, including Trey Hughes, director of the Mooney Aircraft Pilots Association, regard Mooney planes as the Porsches or Ferraris of single-engine piston aircraft.
Mooney stopped producing its planes about four or five years ago as the aircraft industry slumped. But Hughes said he's not aware of whether a deal is pending.
"Until I hear it from Barry, or until they put out an official news release, I'm not getting too excited about this 'Chinese purchase,'" Hughes said. "But everybody knows there have been several groups from Asia visiting Mooney in the past couple years."
Hughes said rumors of companies -- mostly overseas firms -- buying Mooney have been rife in the past few years.
Joe Kennedy, owner of Kerrville Aviation, which offers various aircraft services at the local airport, expressed enthusiasm about the prospect of Mooney producing aircraft again, but he said he didn't know anything about a Chinese deal beyond rumors.
Kennedy got his start in aviation as a machinist at Mooney in a factory that employed about 400 people.
"I'd love to see the (aircraft) factory back up and operating, because it'd be a good thing for the community, and it's a good airplane," Kennedy said.
The article, which can be found at http://english.cri.cn/6826/2013/10/08/2702s791090.htm, doesn't indicate whether the Chinese firm would keep operations in Kerrville.
"Whenever a foreign investor comes in and simply puts money in the company and lets it run where it is, that's a good thing," Hughes said. "A foreign company that moves it to Mexico or Asia or some island in the Pacific ... that's the concern. That's true of all the companies in aviation."
Copyright 2013 - Kerrville Daily Times, Texas
State Rep. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer and the task force chair, pushed for the group's creation after hearing from residents worried about spying by drone aircraft.