Avolon Holdings close to buying aircraft leasing assets of US lender CIT Group

Avolon Holdings, an aircraft leasing company and an affiliate of China's HNA Group is close to finalising a deal to buy the aircraft leasing assets of US lender CIT Group Inc for between $3 billion and $4 billion, Reuters today reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The deal would make Avolon into one of the world's top five lessors, and an announcement could come as early as this week, the report said.

Reuters had earlier reported that Century Tokyo Leasing, which has joint ventures with CIT, and the aircraft leasing arm of China's Ping An Insurance Group, were among those competing for the aircraft assets of CIT.

CIT, the New York-based financial holding company earlier known as Commercial Investment Trust, had last October said that it plans to sell its lending operations in Canada and China and explore strategic options for its $10 billion commercial air unit that manages a fleet of more than 350 aircraft.

CIT, whose commercial air unit has more than 100 customers in approximately 50 countries, had invited Century Tokyo Leasing, sovereign wealth fund China Investment, CDB Leasing, and some global pension funds and insurers, to bid for the asset.

Avolon, based in Ireland, was acquired in 2015 by Bohai Leasing Co, the Chinese leasing and financial services company affiliated with HNA Group for $7.6 billion.

It has 439 aircrafts and 84 customers globally. Its clients include Emirates, Jet Airways, IndiGo, KLM, Ryanair, American Airlines, Qantas, Virgin Atlantic, Aeroflot, Air France, Alitalia, DHL and others.

A Fortune 500 Company, HNA has grown from a local aviation transportation operator into a multinational conglomerate encompassing aviation, airport management, financial services, real estate, retail, tourism, and logistics.

The group has assets worth over $90 billion, and has 11 listed companies. In 2015, HNA had revenues of $21 billion and employed nearly 180,000 worldwide.

It has a fleet of over 820 aircrafts, serves nearly 700 domestic and international routes, flies to over 200 cities, and has serves 77.4 million passengers annually.

HNA operates and manages Hainan Airlines, Tianjin Airlines, Deer Jet, Lucky Air, Capital Airlines, West Air, Fuzhou Airlines, Urumqi Air, Beibu Gulf Airlines, Yangtze River Airlines, Guilin Airlines, My CARGO, Africa World Airlines, and Aigle Azur.