KKR Expands Aircraft Lending, Buying $800 Million CIT Portfolio
A pedestrian passes 100 Pall Mall, housing the offices of KKR & Co., in London, U.K. (Photographer: Chris J. Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)

KKR Expands Aircraft Lending, Buying $800 Million CIT Portfolio

KKR & Co. has acquired an almost $800 million loan portfolio from CIT Group Inc. as it seeks to expand its footprint in the aviation sector.

The deal is part of the global investment firm’s launch of a new commercial aviation lending platform, AV AirFinance Limited, which will provide secured financing to airlines, lessors, manufacturers and investors. The purchase includes more than fifty loans for about sixty commercial aircrafts, according to a company statement. The loans, on average, yield in the mid-single digits and have about four years remaining before maturing.

KKR’s acquisition adds to its growing presence in the aviation space. It agreed to buy Atlantic Aviation from Macquarie Infrastructure Corp for $4.48 billion in cash, assuming its debt and restructuring obligations, Bloomberg News reported earlier this week. The firm also provided a credit facility of as much as $150 million to California-based private aviation company Jet Edge International.

It’s launching the platform at a time when banks have been stepping back from the sector and commercial aircraft owners have a greater need for stable, long-term financing options, Dan Pietrzak, partner and co-head of private credit at KKR told Bloomberg in an emailed statement.

“AV AirFinance is an exciting expansion of our asset-based finance strategy into directly originated commercial aircraft loans, which represent an attractive downside protected investment opportunity for our long-term capital,” Pietrzak said.

Siggi Kristinsson has been tapped as AV AirFinance’s chief executive officer. Kristinsson co-founded and served as CEO of Volito Aviation Services AB, which provided debt origination and advisory services to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and other financial institutions, according to the statement. Ryan Jasinski will join from CIT to focus on loan origination in the Americas. CIT Group disclosed to investors that it had entered into a definitive agreement to sell the portfolio in a first-quarter earnings presentation in April.

“We are very excited to be entering the market at this time to participate in the social and economic recovery, which is driving demand for commercial aviation and increasing the importance of the long-term financing solutions that support the industry,” Kristinsson said.

The acquisition of the portfolio is being funded by separate accounts managed by KKR. The firm’s other investments in the aviation sector include Altitude Aviation, Altavair, KKR DVB Aviation Capital, K2 Aviation, DCAL Aviation, Wheels Up and Global Jet Capital.

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