Chinese plane leasing firm selects Dublin as global headquarters
A unit of China Construction Bank is establishing its aircraft leasing business in Dublin.
It also plans to expand its new Irish base to eventually handle shipping and other leasing operations. CCB Leasing International (CCBLI) has just 17 aircraft in its portfolio, but aims to grow that to about 200 within the next five years.
The Irish office will be responsible for all CCBLI's aircraft leasing business outside China.
State-owed China Construction Bank launched the Dublin arm of its leasing business yesterday.
"Ireland is an ideal launch pad for European, African and American markets and we aim to expand into shipping and other leasing activities from our Irish base in the future," said Hongzhang Wang, chairman of China Construction Bank.
He added that international expansion of CCBLI's aircraft leasing division is "integral to the development" of its transport portfolio and will help establish CCBLI as a "world leader in (the) leasing business".
The CCBLI and IDA Ireland have also signed an official memorandum of understanding. "The memorandum of understanding signifies our already strong relationship with the IDA and our commitment to Ireland," said Jingpu Gu, chairman of CCB Financial Leasing.
Lei Zhang, the vice president of CCB Financial Leasing, and Larry Chi, head of corporate banking and Securities (China) at Deutsche Bank, also signed an agreement to provide CCBLI a $500m financing facility.
There's intense interest among Chinese investors in leasing, with significant increases in air passenger travel forecast in the region in coming years. China's Bohai Leasing recently agreed to buy Dublin-based aircraft lessor Avolon, which was co-founded by Domhnal Slattery.
Bohai is majority-owned by China's state-owned HNA Group. Avolon is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and the transaction places an enterprise value of $7.6bn on the Irish company. It has about $5bn of debt. That takeover is due to be completed next year.
Bohai plans to become the world's third biggest aircraft lessor following the transaction. Avolon has an active and ordered aircraft fleet of 253 jets.
Bohai's chief operating officer, Ren Weidong, recently said that Chinese lessors will account for a larger share of the global leasing market in the future.
Mr Weidong told the 'South China Morning Post' that the leasing market is on an upward cycle, despite some volatility.
He also predicted that almost 70pc of China's demand for over 6,000 aircraft in the next 20 year will be met by lessors.
"Aircraft leasing in China has entered the asset management age," he said.
In a bilateral meeting with Minister for Business and Employment Ged Nash following the ceremony, Mr Wang and senior China Construction Bank officials discussed CCBLI's performance strategy and outlined their growth plan for Ireland.
Mr Nash pointed out that half the world's commercial aircraft fleet is now managed out of Ireland, and that the leasing sector employs 1,200 people here.
Martin Shanahan, the chief executive of IDA Ireland, said the leasing arms of five of the top six Chinese banks now have operations in Ireland. "Attracting investment from Asia is an important part of IDA's global strategy and China is a key strategic market for us," he said.