Dublin aircraft lessor close to inking €3.4bn sale
Australian bank Macquarie Group's aircraft leasing subsidiary is in exclusive talks to buy a portfolio of new planes from Dublin-based lessor AWAS for more than $4bn (€3.4bn), it's understood.
Macquarie AirFinance is negotiating a deal for just under 100 newly built and on-order aircraft being sold by AWAS, which like most international aircraft lessors has either headquarters or major offices in Dublin.
Macquarie is working to finalise an agreement before the end of January, it's believed.
Asia has become the world's fastest-growing aviation market as airlines seek to tap into the rising spending power of the region's travellers. New carriers are increasingly looking to rent planes from the leasing industry.
Two former AWAS executives, as well as a former Aer Lingus executive, are involved in establishing a new aircraft leasing business that will also primarily target the Asian market.
Other potential suitors for the AWAS aircraft portfolio included Japanese firms Orix and SMBC Aviation Capital, owned by Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group. SMBC is headed by Peter Barrett and also has its HQ in Dublin.
Orix is understood to have pulled out from the race because it only wanted to buy some sets of assets. Asian tycoon Li Ka-shing's Cheung Kong Holdings said in August that it was in preliminary stages in considering the acquisition. It then agreed to buy stakes worth $2bn in aircraft from other lessors.
AWAS, one of the world's biggest aircraft lessors, is owned by British private equity firm Terra Firma and has more than 300 planes on lease to over 110 airlines. AWAS and Terra Firma both declined to comment.
Last year, Terra Firma hired Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank to explore exit options for AWAS, and launched a process designed to sell newer aircraft for around $5bn (€4.2bn).