PARIS (Reuters) - Aircraft financier Amedeo said on Monday it had agreed a partnership with the owners of Intrepid Aviation Holdings, in a deal bringing together two leasing firms that have bet their futures on the high-stakes market for wide-body jetliners.
Under the deal, private equity firms Centerbridge Partners and Reservoir Capital agreed to acquire a minority of Amedeo Capital, while Amedeo will take a minority share in Intrepid and also take over its U.S. aircraft management subsidiary.
“It is an excellent fit from a business point of view. The assets are wide-bodied aircraft on lease to good airlines,” Amedeo Chief Executive Mark Lapidus said in an interview.
The companies did not provide details on the respective shareholdings, nor on how the deal would be financed.
Industry sources had said Intrepid, once seen as a candidate for a stock market listing, was looking for a buyer after recovering from setbacks in the wide-body market under restructured management.
Earlier this year, Flightglobal reported that Amedeo was one of the parties interested.
The deal keeps Intrepid’s core shareholders on board and offers Amedeo a fleet of 30 planes, all but one of which are wide-bodies, more than doubling its managed fleet of 19 big jets and giving it access to a broader selection of types.
Intrepid was hit by the January 2015 bankruptcy of Japanese carrier Skymark Airlines, of which it had become the largest creditor after leasing it seven Airbus A330 jets. The aircraft later found homes with Turkish Airlines (THYAO.IS).
Amedeo is controlled by its management after a buyout last year. It first created headlines in 2013 when it ordered 20 Airbus A380 superjumbos with a view to renting them to airlines.
But demand for the 544-seat A380 has fallen below expectations, forcing Amedeo to delay direct deliveries from Airbus and focus instead on its financing airplanes acquired on the market, including some A380s from major operator Emirates.
Analysts said the new deal gives both firms greater scale in the relatively illiquid market for wide-body jets, but noted these can be harder to place than bread-and-butter single-aisle models that make up the bulk of leasing company portfolios.
Reaffirming Intrepid’s ratings, ratings agency Fitch said the deal “enhances Intrepid’s scale ... and provides the potential for improved operating efficiencies for both firms”.
Intrepid will earn most of its income from operating leases, but pay management and services fees to Amedeo.
Amedeo has said it is looking at new ways of operating the A380, including setting up its own airline to fly the plane on behalf of multiple other carriers that would sell seats in different parts of the same plane under their own brands.
But its high hopes for the world’s largest jetliner have not so far materialised and aircraft market sources say it was looking to diversify.
Reporting by Tim Hepher. Editing by Jane Merriman