GE's Irish-headquartered aircraft finance subsidiary has agreed to buy helicopter leasing specialist Milestone Aviation for €1.4 billion.
GE Capital Aviation Services (Gecas), the US multinational's Dublin and Shannon-based aircraft leasing division, confirmed yesterday that it has agreed to buy another Irish operator, helicopter specialist Milestone.
Assuming the deal gets regulatory approval, it is expected to close in 2015. Gecas said that it will pay $1.775 billion (€1.4 billion) for the helicopter lessor.
Industry veteran and Netjets founder Richard T Santulli established Milestone Aviation Group in 2010 with an initial $500 million in financing from private equity firms Jordan Co and Nautic Partners. Its headquarters are in Dublin and it has US offices in New Jersey and Ohio.
The company is focused on leasing helicopters to the oil and gas, and mining industries, as well as to emergency and search and rescue services. According to yesterday’s statement, its fleet consists of 168 helicopters worth $2.8 billion, which are leased to 31 operators in 25 countries.
It also has a forward order and option book of $3 billion with a variety of helicopter manufacturers.
GE Capital chairman and chief executive Keith Sherin described the acquisition as a "great fit" for the group.
“It combines Gecas’s global reach and 45 years-plus in leasing commercial jets with a fast-growing helicopter financing platform that will diversify our business and put our capital to work at good returns,” he said.
Mr Sherin added that Milestone would add to its expertise in two key areas for the multinational – the oil and gas sector and aviation.
GE said that the deal is in line with its strategy of growing in its core industries, aviation, energy, healthcare, and oil and gas, while cutting its overall size by selling “non-strategic” businesses.
Mr Santulli pledged that Milestone would continue to operate as it has for the last four years but with a greater ability to offer deals to clients in a variety of markets. The helicopter lessor will also keep its name.
Its founder will serve as chairman and become an officer of GE. Milestone president Daniel Rosenthal will remain in that role.
Gecas is the top-ranked commercial aircraft lessor in the world.