LCI closes successful financing facility for $325m with additional $100m optional increase to buy more new aircraft

LCI, the aviation leasing division of the Libra Group, has successfully closed a five-year, US$325 million asset–backed credit facility for its helicopter-leasing arm LCI Helicopters. The facility was substantially over-subscribed resulting in an enlarged provision to meet demand. An option to increase the facility to $425 million was also added. The funds will be used to expand the company’s helicopter fleet. LCI Helicopters, in which KKR Financial Holdings, LLC, holds a minority stake, has been growing at scale since LCI’s entry into the helicopter leasing market in 2012.

The commitments for the facility come from a total of eleven lenders from North America, Europe and Asia, including nine new to LCI Helicopters. The transaction was supported by commitments from three main institutions acting as joint lead arrangers and bookrunners: CIT Group, Inc., Nomura Corporate Funding Americas, LLC, and BNP Paribas.

CIT will act as administrative agent and collateral agent; Citibank, N.A., EverBank Financial Corp. and Barclays Bank PLC as co-syndication agents, and The Huntington National Bank and Lombard North Central PLC as co-documentation agents. The other participating lenders include: Amalgamated Bank, Siemens Financial Services, Inc. and National Australia Bank Limited.

Jaspal Jandu, LCI’s Chief Financial Officer, said: “Helicopter operating leasing is a relatively new and dynamic development in the aviation sector. LCI offers flexible leasing options and a solid capital base to our lessees and we are pleased to have the support of our banking partners which demonstrates continued confidence and assurance in our approach.”

Chris Cantwell, Group Head and Managing Director, CIT Corporate Finance, Aerospace & Defense, added: “As existing lenders to LCI, we have been consistently impressed with the company’s vision, management and leasing platform. This new facility endorses that view and model throughout the financing community and provides committed debt capital to the company to meet its impressive growth plans.”

LCI’s helicopter division comprises a fleet of delivered and ordered helicopters approaching 90 new units, including the market-leading AgustaWestland AW139, AW169 and AW189 helicopters and next-generation Airbus Helicopters EC175 and the newly-unveiled Airbus EC225e, for which LCI is a launch customer. LCI announced almost US$1 billion in new orders at the HAI Heli-Expo in Anaheim, California, earlier this year and has also attracted investment of more than US$100 million from KKR Financial Holdings, LLC, to address growing oil and gas sector demand, as well as search and rescue and air ambulance services. Since its inception in 2004, LCI has acquired fixed wing and rotary aircraft with a combined value of approaching US$6 billion.

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