Sir Peter Rigby, chairman of tech reseller giant SCC, has chosen to invest some cash made from the sale of his IT wholesaling arm into a controlling stake in Exeter International Airport (EIA).
Moving into the aviation industry is not a new direction for Sir Peter, as his holding company, the Rigby Group, already owns Coventry airport and helicopter biz Patriot Aerospace.
The group has taken a 60 per cent stake in EIA from Balfour Beatty, which paid Devon County Council £60m for that share in 2007 after a boom period when airport traffic trebled in the previous half-decade.
But the number of travellers peaked a year later at one million, and had fallen to below 700,000 in the intervening years, forcing Balfour Beatty to write down the value of EIA to zero in its accounts last year.
"The proceeds of the sale will be used to repay the funders," said Balfour Beatty in a statement. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.
So far he has yet to do that - though he did also acquire British International Helicopters last month. Clearly the margins in aviation are better than selling tech to corporate and public sector customers.
In a canned statement, Sir Peter said: "We believe in the importance of regional airports and their value to the local and regional communities and of their important contribution and place in the local economies."
He added that Rigby Group was "intent" on developing the aviation business "with a view to being a leading group in the sectors of regional airports and helicopter operations".
The remaining 40 per stake in EIA is owned by a specialist fund backed by French and Italian investors and the European Commission.
The Rigby Group includes a portfolio of firms operating in IT, hotels, property, aviation and has investment and private equity arms. ®