Magazine article American Banker

AirNet, a Casualty of Check Decline, Is Put Up for Sale

Magazine article American Banker

AirNet, a Casualty of Check Decline, Is Put Up for Sale

Article excerpt

The check courier AirNet Systems Inc. is on the block.

The Columbus, Ohio, company announced it had engaged the Chicago investment bank Brown Gibbons Lang & Co. to "evaluate various strategic alternatives to enhance shareholder value."

Those options could include selling all or part of the company, refinancing, raising additional capital, or restructuring the company, AirNet said in a press release issued Monday. A spokesman said Wednesday that executives were not available for an interview.

Burt Ely, an independent bank consultant in Alexandria, Va., said there is little doubt that AirNet's main business is eroding. (AirNet planes also deliver American Banker.)

The company gets 60% of its revenues from delivering paper checks, a business that is inexorably in decline. Consumers are increasingly embracing electronic payments, and this trend is driving up the volume for online bill payments and credit and debit cards while driving down check use.

In addition, banks and billers that receive checks are starting to convert them into electronic files, either check images or automated clearing house payments. That is further reducing the need for AirNet's fleet of planes.

"AirNet is very publicly having to deal with these issues," Mr. Ely said.

The Federal Reserve banks released a survey report last month that quantified what most bankers already knew. It found that the banking system processed 36.7 billion checks in 2003, 12.4% less than the 2001 survey found. …

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