Guggenheim Partners’ commercial-airplane leasing unit has been sold to its management team based in the Seattle area, which is renaming the newly independent lessor Altavair. It will manage a $3.4 billion portfolio of mostly large widebody jets.
New York City-based investment giant Guggenheim Partners announced Monday the sale of its commercial-airplane leasing unit to the management team based in the Seattle area.
The newly independent lessor will manage a $3.4 billion portfolio of 55 commercial airplanes, including 30 widebody jets. The sale price was not disclosed.
The company name will change from Guggenheim Aviation Partners (GAP) to Altavair. It employs 18 people at its Issaquah headquarters and nine more at offices in London and Singapore.
Steve Rimmer, the aviation executive who led GAP, will be chief executive.
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Altavair’s fleet consists of 14 Boeing 777 passenger jets and two 777 freighters, two 747s, three 767s, nine Boeing 737-900ERs and 16 older 757s, as well as eight Airbus A330 passenger jets and one A330 freighter. Most of those jets are managed, not owned by the company.
Rimmer said in an interview that Altavair plans to raise capital from the debt market, chiefly from insurance companies and pension funds, to grow the portfolio by about $1 billion per year and own rather than manage more of its fleet.
Guggenheim Partners is stewards of the wealth of the Guggenheim family and other families and institutions and manages $240 billion in assets.
GAP was founded in 2003 by Rimmer and Paul Newrick, both British-born aircraft-industry veterans, as a joint venture with Guggenheim.
In the ensuing years, the aircraft leasing business has been an attractive and lucrative field.
Rimmer said the market has matured, today accounting for nearly 42 percent of the commercial-jet fleet worldwide. Its dynamics no longer suit the fixed seven- to nine-year investment fund that is Guggenheim’s framework.
He said it takes longer to get full value from the investment needed to place, say, a 777-300ER with American Airlines on a 12-year lease.
Yet even as Guggenheim sold off the unit, Chairman Scott Minerd said its clients may still invest in specific Altavair airplane deals.
The aircraft-leasing market has been changing dramatically in recent years, and the current lull in commercial-jet orders has led to softening lease rates.
Guggenheim’s sale continues a recent trend of large U.S. financial institutions divesting such assets.
CIT, a New York-based financial-holding company with more than $65 billion in financing and leasing assets, is close to finalizing the sale of its aircraft-leasing unit, CIT Aerospace.
China’s HNA Group, owner of Hainan Airlines, is expected to pay about $10 billion for the CIT unit, which manages a fleet of more than 350 commercial aircraft. HNA bought Avolon, another commercial-airplane lessor, for $7.6 billion earlier this year.
Chinese companies have been eager buyers of plane-leasing assets. Avolon’s CEO told trade magazine Flightglobal this year that by 2025 three of the top five lessors could be Chinese.