Abu Dhabi’s aerospace ambitions get a boost


Abu Dhabi based investment company Waha Capital is taking a 20 per cent stake in Dutch-based aircraft leasing firm AerCap Holdings, in a deal worth around US$380mn.

The deal gives Waha Capital more exposure to the aircraft leasing industry, in which it has already made significant investments. Analysts said it also underscores Abu Dhabi's determination to become the Middle East's aerospace hub. AerCap already had a 50-50 joint venture with Waha covering 47 existing Airbus A320 planes and an additional seven on order.

Under the terms of the deal, Waha will transfer its stake in those aircraft to AerCap, which will own them outright. In addition, Waha will hand over a 40 per cent interest in 16 other jetliners it owns, to be managed by AerCap. It will also pay AerCap US$8mn in new funds and assume US$97mn in liabilities.

"Through this transaction, Waha solidifies its existing partnership with AerCap and consolidates its investments in the aviation sector through a leading global player," said Waha Capital CEO Salem Rashid Al Noaimi.

"Furthermore, Waha diversifies its current aviation exposure by investing in a larger and more modern aircraft fleet while benefiting from AerCap's world-class expertise." Salem Rashid Al Noaimi added that he was confident the deal would see Waha strengthen AerCap's presence in the MENA region's rapidly expanding aviation market.

"We are convinced that the diversification of AerCap's ownership structure through a well-respected shareholder based in Abu Dhabi combined with the strong credentials of Abu Dhabi's growing commitment to the global aerospace sector will represent a substantial long term benefit for AerCap's stakeholders," said AerCap CEO Klaus Heinemann.

AerCap's relationship with Waha began in 2008 when Waha Leasing purchased an Airbus A330-200 and an A320-200 from AerCap. In June 2009, Waha became a 50 per cent shareholder in AerVenture. Under the new agreement signed recently between AerCap and Waha, AerCap will resume full control of AerVenture. AerVenture, established in 2006 with a focus on new Airbus A320 family aircraft, has a fleet of 47 A320 family aircraft plus firm orders for a further seven aircraft.

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