x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Waha Capital in $380m Dutch aircraft deal

The the Abu Dhabi investment company has agreed to acquire a 20 per cent stake in AerCap Holdings, the Dutch aircraft leasing company.

Waha Capital, the Abu Dhabi investment company, has agreed to acquire a 20 per cent stake in AerCap Holdings, the Dutch aircraft leasing company, in a deal valued at US$380 million (Dh1.39 billion).

In return for the stake, Waha will transfer to the company aircraft assets held independently, as well as those held in an earlier joint venture with AerCap, in addition to $105m in liabilities and cash.

Hussain al Nowais, the chairman of Waha Capital, said: "Waha is gaining access to a 20 per cent stake in a holding company that is extremely well-run. This will also add value to AerCap to further grow its business in the [MENA] region."

The transaction will further Waha's evolution into a broad-based financial services and holding company. It was founded 13 years ago. Waha's investments also focus on infrastructure and property, the maritime sector and financial services.

On Saturday, it announced a net profit of Dh77m for the first nine months of this year, a rise of more than 239 per cent over the same period last year. But revenues for its third quarter were flat at Dh105.4m compared with a year earlier.

As part of yesterday's transaction, Waha will nominate two directors to the board of AerCap, which is traded on the New York Stock Exchange. AerCap, which has more than 300 aircraft under management worldwide, said it planned to open a representative office in Abu Dhabi to market its aircraft leasing and maintenance businesses.

Aengus Kelly, the chief executive of AerCap, said the MENA region is the fastest growing market for aviation.

Yesterday's deal marks the move from a 50-50 joint venture between Waha and AerCap formed in April last year - AerVenture, which managed a fleet of 47 aircraft leased out to commercial airlines, with an additional seven aircraft on order.

Waha officials described that partnership, which centred on narrow-body Airbus planes, as an engagement period. "Now we are getting married," said Salem al Noaimi, the chief executive of Waha.

All of the assets of this venture will be transferred to AerCap. The firm will also take a 40 per cent stake in a Waha aircraft portfolio, encompassing 16 aircraft including Boeing 777s, Airbus A330s and Bombardier short-haul jets.

Waha said it was progressing on a number of other initiatives.

Next summer it will complete its flagship mixed-use industrial property project called Almarkaz, Mr al Nowais said.

Waha is also progressing with a number of financing deals with the UAE military, which has allied with the state-backed Waha in a strategic relationship, he added.

The first deal, for six Boeing C-17 transport planes, was concluded last December and included a $1.5bn bond. A deal for Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport planes is progressing, Mr al Nowais said.

igale@thenational.ae