Near miss

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The Independent Online
Those who subscribed to Guinness Peat Aviation's dollars 600m ( pounds 310m) share offer last June must be thanking their lucky stars the issue was pulled. Had it gone ahead, they would undoubtedly have lost their shirts.

Though the company is certainly not bust, it is plainly in trouble. According to Dublin brokers, GPA may make a loss this year after taking account of provisions against aircraft cancellations and rescheduling - a far cry from the dollars 350m profits generally being forecast at the time of the abortive float. It is hard to imagine a more dramatic case of boom to bust. How on earth could it have happened? The outlook for the world aviation industry has deteriorated since the abortive float, but surely not by that much.

Failure to raise the dollars 600m also made a critical difference to GPA's business. GPA needed that new equity to maintain its breakneck growth. Deprived of the money, it won't be able to afford all the new aircraft it has committed itself to purchase, which means it could lose some of the dollars 1bn prepayments it has lodged with aircraft manufacturers, mainly Boeing.

Admittedly you could have suspected this and other looming problems through a a careful reading of the prospectus, which was so hedged around with health warnings as to have done credit to a tropical diseases quarantine unit. Even so, it is difficult to understand how so many eminent advisers - Nomura, BZW, Schroders and Goldman Sachs to name but some - could have lent their names to such a fragile investment prospect.

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