Investor who tried to save Eclipse is bankrupt
The Dutch businessman who tried to save Eclipse and had great
success in the 1990s leading technology firms such as Unix Systems Laboratories
and Tandem Computer is himself in need of saving. The investment firm ETIRC
(European Technology and Investment Research Center) established by Roel
Pieper, former head of Eclipse Aviation, declared bankruptcy April 7.
It was Pieper’s failure to complete a loan with a Russian bank
that led to the conversion of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of Eclipse to a final Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
The Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant reports that Pieper
invested $146 million in Eclipse that came out of his own pocket through the
ETIRC firm. It further reports that the total Eclipse debt is $1 billion.
Pieper specialized in Russian, Turkish, and American technology
using personal funds and funds from other investors. At the same time he was
fighting to save Eclipse he was investing tens of millions of dollars in a
Russian technology to extract diesel fuel from coal. That project enabled him
to attract Russian interest in Eclipse and a promise to invest that never
Recently several of his investments failed. They include a
magazine, Opinio; a Web site, Tradingcars.com (the domain is for
sale); and the telecommunications company Stonehenge, which lost $87 million.
Efforts to start a company to make GPS navigation units for cars called MyGuide
that was intended to compete with TomTom have also failed.
When Pieper returned to The Netherlands in 1998, de
Volkskrant reported, he joined the board of the huge electronics company
Phillips. His career there ended when he told a press briefing that he was in
charge, the “crown prince” at Phillips. The remark didn’t go over well with the
CEO, Cor Boonstra. He left in 1999 for Belgium to become the vice chairman of
the board of Lernhout & Hauspie, a speech-recognition company. He left when
the company ran into trouble over bookkeeping errors.
April 16, 2009