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Nigeria seeks private investors for aircraft leasing venture

LAGOS, April 8 (Reuters) - Nigeria plans to set up an aircraft leasing company to help domestic and African carriers obtain new planes and is seeking private partners for the venture, the government said on Monday.

Most airlines in Nigeria want to expand their fleets, but high financing costs and currency risks have hampered growth. Nigerian airlines' revenues are in naira, while most of their costs are in U.S. dollars.

The government said in a statement the new company would initially lease aircraft from international lessors and sub-lease them to domestic operators.

It wants the partner to be a consortium of international lessors, financial institutions and investors, and said bidders had until May 20 to show interest. The government will own a minority stake.

On Friday, Nigeria's Medview Airline said it had been in talks with some financial institutions to raise capital and that a lack of infrastructure as well as dollar shortages were complicating its operating environment.

The company added its short-term growth prospects were limited after posting losses.

The government has said it plans to hand over airports to private managers to attract investment and overhaul aviation infrastructure that has suffered decades of neglect and under-investment. It also plans to set up an aircraft maintenance facility in Lagos or Abuja with private operators.

The government had been considering launching a national carrier, but suspended that project in September, without giving a reason. (Reporting by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Mark Potter)