Hong Kong billionaire family buys Irish aircraft leasing firm

Sky Aviation Leasing International unit sold to Goshawk Aviation for undisclosed sum

The acquisition of Dublin-based Sky Leasing will help swell Goshawk Aviation’s fleet of 120 aircraft worth more than $5.8 billion. Photograph: iStock

The acquisition of Dublin-based Sky Leasing will help swell Goshawk Aviation’s fleet of 120 aircraft worth more than $5.8 billion. Photograph: iStock

 

Hong Kong’s billionaire Cheng family, best known for its Chow Tai Fook Jewellery group, has bought an Irish aircraft leasing firm.

Goshawk Aviation, owned by Chow Tai Fook Enterprises and NWS Holdings, agreed to buy a unit of Sky Aviation Leasing International that has grown into a $3 billion (€2.6 billion) business, according to a June 21st statement from investment groups selling the asset. The deal, whose value wasn’t disclosed, is subject to regulatory approvals and set to close in the third quarter.

Goshawk will buy the business from the Public Sector Pension Investment Board, one of Canada’s largest pension investment managers, and private-equity firm ATL partners.

China-based aircraft leasing companies are emerging as a key driver of the global aviation finance market, according to FlightGlobal. A travel boom in the region is attracting investors to the business, whose returns can often exceed those of airlines. The acquisition of Dublin-based Sky Leasing will help swell Goshawk’s fleet of 120 aircraft worth more than $5.8 billion, according to Goshawk’s website.

The option of leasing aircraft also helps carriers to cap cost of ownership in a market that is at the mercy of see-sawing crude-oil prices. Sky Leasing, which has acquired or committed to buying 51 commercial aircraft, has a regional office in Hong Kong and counts China’s three major state carriers among its clients.

Leased aircraft account for about 42 per cent of the world’s fleet, according to Flight Ascend Consultancy. Among the world’s top 12 lessors, four are Chinese-owned. Europe and Asia Pacific hold about 30 per cent each of the world’s leased fleet.

Chow Tai Fook Enterprises is owned by the family headed by tycoon Henry Cheng, whose net worth is $16.9 billion (€14.5 billion), according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. – Bloomberg