Asia-Pacific News

Chinese group snaps up Avolon in $2.5b deal

Patti Waldmeir
Aircraft flying.
Getty Images

The bidding battle for Avolon has ended with Bohai Leasing, a unit of the Chinese aviation and shipping company HNA, snapping up the Dublin-based aircraft leasing company in a deal valuing its equity at just over $2.5 billion.

It beat out AVIC Capital, a subsidiary of state-owned Aviation Industry of China, which began talks with US-listed Avolon a year ago. Aircraft leasing is attracting growing attention and dollars in Asia, with Japan's Mitsubishi and Hong Kong-based billionaire Li Ka-shing among recent investors. Bohai secured its prize early on Friday with an offer of $31 a share, $1 a share below its previous offer and a 31 per cent premium to the undisturbed share price on July 13. Including debt, the price equates to an enterprise value of $7.6 billion.

Should you bet on Chinese airlines?

The deal, approved by Avolon's board, is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2016.

It has been a fraught battle but one with generous rewards for Avolon's investors, which include private equity groups Cinven, CVC and Oak Hill. Avolon listed last December at $20 a share.

More from the Financial Times:

Sale timetable squeezes Avolon bidders
Chinese investors compete to buy Avolon
Macquarie in talks to buy 100 aircraft

Bohai was forced to sweeten its initial offer of $26 a share for a 20 per cent stake in July to $32 the following month after an informal rival offer emerged, understood to be from AVIC Capital, a subsidiary of Aviation Industry of China.

The two companies said the agreed price of $31, trimmed by $1, "reflects significant volatility across global equity markets". Bohai had agreed to raise its break fee by $100 million to $350 million, "to provide greater certainty of value and reflecting its commitment to the transaction".

Read MoreChina to invest $80B in 193 aviation projects this year

Denis Nayden, Avolon chairman, said Bohai would bring profile and China relationships to the group. The China market, he said, offers "one of the most compelling growth opportunities in global aviation over the next two decades".

Bohai, which is listed in Shenzhen, is a subsidiary of HNA, which is privately owned and focuses on aircraft, shipping and tourism.

Avolon, one of the world's fastest-growing aircraft leasing businesses, last month reported a better than expected second quarter, recording net income of $55.6 million for the three months to the end of June 30, up 133 per cent compared with the same time last year. Revenue rose 38 per cent to $183.9 million.