Sun Country Airlines being sold to NY investment firm
Minnesota-based Sun Country Airlines said Thursday it’s agreed to sell itself to Apollo Global Management, a New York City investment firm.
Terms were not disclosed. Sun Country, the largest privately-held fully independent airline in the United States, is expected to keep its headquarters in state.
The airline was bought by the Davis family, owners of Cambria Holdings, in 2011. The family’s portfolio includes Cambria, a maker of quartz countertops. The family hails from St. Peter, Minn. Apollo said it was buying the airline from brothers Marty and Mitch Davis.
Mendota Heights-based Sun Country specializes in flying from cold weather locales to warm weather destinations. It flies about 2.5 million passengers per year. Earlier this year, the company unveiled plans to become a “no-frills” carrier.
Apollo is an investment firm with assets under management of about $242 billion, according to its statement. Apollo said the deal is targeted to close during the first quarter of 2018, pending regulatory approvals.
Apollo praised Sun Country for its “brand presence” and community ties. “We are tremendously excited about the acquisition of Sun Country,” Apollo partner Antoine Munfakh, said in a statement. “Sun Country presents compelling opportunities for innovation, efficiency and growth.” Current CEO Jude Bricker will remain in that post, Apollo said.
Sun Country Chair Marty Davis said Apollo has a proven track record for successfully helping companies grow. “We are confident the company is well-positioned for continued expansion and its evolution beyond its Minnesota base.”
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Thursday that Sun Country’s headquarters will stay in Minnesota.
Prior to its purchase by the Davis family, Sun Country went through a turbulent period.
In October, 2008, the company rushed into bankruptcy as the legal troubles of then-owner Tom Petters mounted. Petters was eventually convicted of perpetrating a $3.5 billion fraud on investors.
The bankruptcy filing allowed Sun Country to keep operating and protect itself from liquidation as part of the effort to raise money to compensate Petters’ creditors and victims.
In the wake of 9/11, the company declared bankruptcy, stopped all but charter flying and laid off nearly its entire staff of 900 workers. By the following February the company had resumed flying a scaled-back schedule, and was eventually sold to a Minnesota-based investor group. Petters bought the airline in 2006.