StandardAero engine maintenance StandardAero/George Tenney

Private Equity Ramps up Aftermarket Investment

Interest in the MRO industry continued this week with StandardAero's re-purchase by The Carlyle Group and TAT's sale of Sabena technics.

A hectic year in the aviation aftermarket has culminated with a flurry of investment activity spearheaded by private equity players.

This week alone saw the re-purchase of StandardAero by Carlyle and the revelation that a consortium of investors is preparing to buy European MRO provider Sabena technics from long-term owner TAT.

Furthermore, there was confirmation of GA Telesis’ new engine leasing joint venture--Gateway Engine Leasing--with Japanese investors Tokyo Century and All Nippon Airways Trading.

Yet, while all the deals featured some non-aviation-focused investors, there was little else to link them: Private equity darling StandardAero has been sold four times in the last 14 years, usually for bigger valuations each time, although the recent purchase price was not disclosed; Sabena technics, on the other hand, has been part of French aviation group TAT since 2005.

Sabena’s new buyers include private equity firms Towerbrook and Sagard, plus French sovereign fund Bpifrance, which usually focuses on innovation investment. The consortium expects to complete its investment in the second quarter of 2019.

The Gateway Engine Leasing deal can be seen as more of an internal venture since both Tokyo Century and ANATC are significant shareholders in Florida-based GA Telesis.

Like GA Telesis, Gateway will be headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, from where it plans to offer current-generation engine leasing services. It will commence operations with a seed portfolio of IAE V2500, CFM56-5B, and CF6-80E engines already on lease.

Despite Gateway’s U.S. location, it plans to rapidly expand into Europe and Asia, and its Japanese investment is significant in a market where one of the biggest players, Engine Lease Finance, is already owned by a Japanese company: Mitsubishi UFJ Lease & Finance.

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