LCI's fleet comprises Sikorsky, Leonardo and Airbus rotorcraft, including the Leonardo AW189, pictured. (Photo: LCI)
Lease Corporation International (LCI), the aviation division of privately-held Libra Group, has successfully secured more than $135 million in asset-backed financing for a new helicopter facility with a syndicate of five banks led by CIT Group Inc as agent. The new facility will be used to support the continuing development and expansion of LCI’s fleet.
“As long-term financial partners of LCI, we have been consistently impressed by LCI’s strong leasing platform, management and diversified approach to the marketplace, and we are pleased to strengthen our relationship further,” said John P. Heskin, managing director and group head of CIT’s aerospace, defense and government services group.
“We are delighted that LCI’s long-held commitment to strong but balanced growth across multiple markets and sectors has been recognized in this vote of confidence from five major financial institutions,” said Jaspal Jandu, chief financial officer of LCI. “This facility, arranged and closed during a period of major industry realignment, will enable us to pursue the continued growth of our diversely-placed fleet.”
A week prior, led by CaixaBank ,LCI secured another $75 million in financing for another helicopter facility. The company has raised a total of more than $280 million in helicopter debt financing since January 2018.
Asked how these deals better positions the company to capitalize on industry realignment, Jandu told R&WI: “Whilst a healthy and diverse financing environment is good for LCI and the marketplace as a whole, our ability to raise finance, some of it on an oversubscribed basis, in the current environment demonstrates our robustness and proven track record as a leading helicopter lessor.”
LCI’s parent company, the family-owned conglomerate Libra Group headed by George Logothetis, has historically profited from industry downturns, proving adept at selling assets at peak pricing and acquiring during economic recessions.
Originally founded as Lomar Shipping — now the group’s shipping subsidiary — Libra sold most of its fleet of 70 ships during the shipping market boom from 2004-2007, inking a massive profit that helped finance the group's diversification into aviation, hospitality, real estate, financial services and renewable energy, including significant investments by LCI in aviation assets.
“We have a growing group and we bought a lot of cheap assets in the last five years. During this depression, recession, call it what you want, not all markets move in tandem,” George Logothetis told Reuters in 2013.
In 2012, LCI expanded into helicopter leasing, and in 2014 purchased nearly $1 billion in helicopters from Airbus and AugustaWestland. The company’s fleet comprises mainly medium and super-medium helicopters manufactured by Leonardo, Airbus and Sikorsky.