China Group Missing Deposit Date Could Ground AIG’s Plane-Lease Sale

May 31, 2013

A Chinese group’s purchase of ILFC, one of the world’s largest airplane leasing businesses, could collapse after insurer American International Group Inc. said on Friday it did not receive a scheduled deposit payment.

Under terms of the purchase agreement, the missed payment gives AIG the right to cancel the sale, though such a decision was not expected to be imminent. AIG declined to comment, while a spokesman for the consortium was not immediately available to comment.

AIG said last December it would sell up to 90 percent of ILFC for up to $4.8 billion. Two weeks ago, the sides agreed to extend the deadline for the deal’s closing by a month to mid-June.

The Chinese consortium is made up of New China Trust, which is one-fifth owned by Barclays Plc ; China Aviation Industrial Fund; and P3 Investments Ltd. An arm of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China’s biggest bank, was meant to join the group once the deal had regulatory approval.

ILFC was the last key asset that AIG was attempting to dispose of following its government-backed restructuring. AIG first filed to take the business public in 2011, before ultimately agreeing on the direct sale last year.

With nearly 1,000 owned or managed planes, ILFC is one of the world’s largest players in the market for buying aircraft and leasing them to airlines.

But ILFC has been hurt after recording heavy charges in recent years to write down the value of older planes in its fleet. The sale price was about half of what AIG had once insisted the business should be worth.

AIG shares fell 2 percent at $45.30.

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