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Saudi wealth fund PIF behind new aircraft lessor Avilease

PIF is one of the world’s wealthiest institutions, with approximately $620bn of assets under management

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Saudi Arabia’s vast sovereign wealth fund, Public Investment Fund (PIF), is the 100pc owner of aircraft leasing venture Avilease, which launched this week.

The Irish Independent first reported on Wednesday that two of the most experienced figures in Irish aircraft leasing, including former Carlyle Aviation Partners executive Ted O’Byrne and aviation lawyer Rob Murphy, of law firm Arthur Cox, were directors of the new aircraft leasing platform, Avilease Aviation Management Ireland, and a number of related companies.

Before joining Carlyle Aviation Partners in 2010, Mr O’Byrne was the chief investment officer at Dublin-based AerCap, the world’s largest aircraft leasing company.

Seasoned aviation lawyer Rob Murphy is co-chair of Arthur Cox’s aviation group and was previously chief operating officer and general counsel at CDB Aviation having started his career at Guinness Peat Aviation.

He also advised on the formation of Dublin-based leasing firm Avolon, which was co-founded by Dómhnal Slattery.

Mr O’Byrne worked for Airbus before joining AerCap in 2007 and became chief investment officer at the lessor in 2011.

In 2019, he joined Carlyle following its acquisition of Apollo Aviation.

In a statement, Saudi Arabia’s PIF said the launch of Avilease is a core element of Saudi Arabia’s expanding aviation ecosystem. The fund is working to use the country’s huge oil wealth to develop alternative generators of future income. 

"As a PIF fully owned company, PIF’s ample liquidity and strong balance sheet, combined with its depth of financing and investment-structuring expertise will help the company leverage the opportunity in the aircraft leasing market.”

PIF is one of the world’s wealthiest institutions, with approximately $620bn of assets under management at the end of March. 

It said Avilease will offer leasing, trading, and asset management services for the latest generation of leading manufacturers’ aircraft

The company plans to scale through purchase-and-lease-back transactions, secondary portfolio acquisitions, direct orders from aircraft manufacturers, and potentially corporate acquisitions.

PIF said Avilease is managed by a top-tier team that will lead its growth, localise knowledge and expertise, and enable the development of the company’s desired infrastructure, with plans to become a national champion in the aircraft-leasing market.

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