CIT Group Inc. (NYSE: CIT), a leading provider of commercial lending and leasing services, is said to be speeding up the sale process of its CIT Aerospace commercial air business, to advance the company’s strategic initiatives first announced by its former chairman and CEO John A. Thain, upon his retirement on October 21, 2015.

“Following the completion of our OneWest Bank acquisition, we have decided to explore strategic alternatives for our — $10 billion — Commercial Air business and to sell our non-transportation-related businesses in Canada and China,” said Thain, who had previously led Merrill Lynch and orchestrated its sale to Bank of America during the financial crisis.

More than a dozen entities were invited to submit first-round bids for CIT Aerospace by next month.

Given the growing Asian demand and shifting balance of the global aviation industry to Asia, a strong line-up of Chinese and Japanese suitors are expected to bid for the unit, according to Reuters, including China’s HNA Group, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China’s ICBC Leasing, and Japan’s Orix Corp.

The move comes after BOC Aviation, an arm of Bank of China, the country’s fourth-largest lender by assets, launched an initial public offering in Hong Kong for its aircraft leasing business, targeting HK$8.7 billion ($1.13 billion) from the sale of both new and existing shares, FinanceAsia reported.

BOC International and Goldman Sachs are the joint sponsors of the IPO. Similar to other recent billion-dollar IPOs in Hong Kong, BOC Aviation has lined up local and foreign cornerstone investors to subscribe for $583 million, or 52% of the deal before the order book was opened to public institutional and retail investors

BOC Aviation will be the second aircraft leasing company listed in Asia after China Aircraft Leasing Group (CALC) floated its shares in Hong Kong two years ago, says FinanceAsia. BOC Aviation’s fleet is nearly four times bigger than CALC’s though, at almost 230 planes, while its expected market capitalization is over six times greater.

BOC Aviation is a leading global aircraft operating leasing company and the largest aircraft operating leasing company headquartered in Asia, as measured by the value of owned aircraft.

BOC Aviation has delivered 22 years of unbroken profitability, with a portfolio of owned aircraft has an average age of less than four years, weighted by net book value, making it one of the youngest in the aircraft operating lease industry.

With shares scheduled to begin trading on June 1, BOC Aviation looks set to steal a march on rivals CDB Leasing and Minsheng Financial Leasing, which are both also preparing to list in Hong Kong later this year, FinanceAsia added.

As airlines serving Asia Pacific are attempting to expand their fleets, they’re finding that the leasing business can be more lucrative than operating an airline, which has prompted conglomerates led by Hong Kong billionaires Li Ka-shing and Cheng Yu-tung to enter the industry, says Bloomberg.

Malaysian low-cost airline AirAsia Berhad (MYX: 5099) also reportedly received an offer valued at $1 billion for its aircraft-leasing business, according to CEO Tony Fernandes. AirAsia plans to divest its aircraft leasing subsidiary Asia Aviation Capital Ltd, Fernandes told Bloomberg TV during an interview.

CIT Aerospace owns, finances and manages a fleet of more than 350 commercial aircraft serving approximately 100 customers in 50 countries. CIT Aerospace offers an array of industry-leading services, supported by our fleet of Airbus, Boeing, Embraer and Bombardier aircraft. CIT Aerospace has seven aircraft leasing, advising and syndication offices in Dublin, Ireland; Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Los Angeles, Calif.; New York, N.Y.; Seattle, Wash.; Singapore; and Toulouse, France.

Founded in 1908, CIT is a financial holding company with more than $65 billion in assets. Its principal bank subsidiary CIT Bank NA, has more than $30 billion of deposits and more than $40 billion of assets. It provides financing, leasing and advisory services principally to middle market companies across more than 30 industries primarily in North America, and equipment financing and leasing solutions to the transportation sector. It also offers products and services to consumers through its Internet bank franchise and a network of retail branches in Southern California, operating as OneWest Bank, a division of CIT Bank. The company is headquartered in Livingston, N.J.

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