Sunday 22 April 2018

O'Brien's Aergo down €3.5m on Alitalia plane leasing deal

Laura Noonan

DENIS O'Brien's recently liquidated Aergo Leasing was left $4.8m (€3.5m) out of pocket by the bankruptcy of Italian flag carrier Alitalia, new documents reveal.

Aergo Leasing had been renting 15 small MD80 planes to Alitalia when the Italian carrier limped into bankruptcy in late 2008.

New Companies Office filings show Alitalia's administrators "rejected" the leases for those 15 planes and returned the aircraft to their Irish owners.

Aergo Leasing then opted to "surrender" the planes to its own lenders "in light of the worldwide recession in the airline industry and the major fall off in demand for MD80 equipment".

The transaction triggered a $4.8m financial hit for Aergo Leasing in the year ended December 2008, pushing the company almost $4m into the red for the year. "The directors are considering the future activities of the company," according to the accounts signed off on September 30, 2009.

Aergo Leasing went on to hold a creditors' meeting on January 12, for the purposes of winding up the company. A fellow group company Aergo Omega Leasing was also wound up, but the main Aergo entity, Aergo Capital, continues to trade.

The latest accounts for Aergo Leasing show the firm's turnover fell marginally in 2008, dipping to $14.785m from $14.964m a year earlier.

The company remained profitable at the operating line, where earnings came in at $4.01m compared with $5.09m in 2007.

The surrender of the Alitalia aircraft left Aergo Leasing with no assets fixed assets on its balance sheet, compared to $62.1m worth a year earlier.

The company closed the 2008 year having completely wound down its balance sheet to the point where it had no liabilities and no assets.

Alitalia's bankruptcy has been one of the most bloody and long-running in recent aviation history, with creditors' owed an estimated €2.3bn. The Italian airline recently auctioned nearly 200 paintings and drawings by contemporary Italian artists to try to pay off some of its debts, raising €1.2m for its efforts.

The "old" Alitalia is also selling off its airline business to "new Alitalia" and expects to make €252m from the transaction.

Irish Independent

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