30 August 2009

Will Giant ILFC Be Split Up?

Probably one of the biggest boosters for Aviation is Steven Udvar-Hazy, chairman and chief executive of International Lease Finance Corp., the aircraft leasing company owned by American International Group. He built it and then sold it to AIG where it has been one of the strongest performers consistently. ILFC is one of the world's largest Aircraft Leasing Companies. (Actually THE biggest).

For the past year since AIG entered into difficulties and needed bailing out - he has been trying to take it out of the group. However the company is saddled with a lot of debt $30 billion give or take a few and $2Billion due in October.

It has been no secret that he wants to have the whole company - run from the MGM Tower in Century City - back under his direct control and independent from AIG. However this plan is looking increasingly unattainable. So he has started to look at the possibility of splitting it up into smaller chunks and he take part of the Portfolio with him.

Normally there would be no shortage of people wanting to arrange a buyout and with boat loads of cash to boot. Also in normal times the GCC Sovereign funds or one of their surrogates would be very interested. Ditto Singapore. However the GFC is not helping this - coupled with the global downturn in travel that the airlines are feeling just a little heat from.

ILFC is the grease that oils a lot of the global airline trade. Both Airbus and Boeing are heavily dependent on it for orders. Should ILFC go away all together (very unlikely) or be reduced in size - the impact on the market for airliners would be significant and likely in a detrimental way.

Quietly late last year - both Boeing and Airbus got back into the capital market of lending money to airlines. Should ILFC be affected then Boeing for one would have to pick up a significant part of the slack.

All in all - let's hope the ever effervescent Hungarian born CEO gets his wish to make ILFC independent and retain its portfolio.

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