Dubai Group Near Deal to Buy U.S. Aviation Assets

Dubai Aerospace Enterprise is nearing a deal to buy a series of aviation businesses from U.S. private equity firm Carlyle Group for more than $1.5 billion, a source familiar with the matter said on Monday.

As part of the agreement, DAE would buy Landmark Aviation, an aircraft maintenance provider, and Standard Aero, which provides repair and overhaul services at airport terminals for small-jet aviation and some military transports, according to the source.

Carlyle declined to comment on the deal.

An agreement with DAE is likely to face debate in Washington, where last year's state-owned Dubai Ports World's purchase of some U.S. port operations triggered a political firestorm.

Both Democrats and Republicans feared that giving a state-owned Arab firm control of U.S. port terminals would pose a threat to national security. DPW later agreed to sell the port operations to soothe U.S. congressional concerns.

New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, who led the opposition to the Dubai Ports deal, told the Financial Times: "This purchase is not as much of a security risk as Dubai Ports World, but because it deals with maintenance of aircraft, it certainly raises security questions."

DAE is planning to divest the group of 35 small terminals controlled by Landmark Aviation, the source said.

Schumer said, however, that if a review of the deal was done by the committee on foreign investment, Cfius, "and necessary safeguards are taken, the deal is unlikely to have problems in Congress."

DAE and Carlyle are expected to undergo a full review by Cfius, which is controlled by the Bush administration.