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GIP lands Signature aviation in $4.36bn deal

(Sharecast News) – Gatwick Airport co-owner Global Infrastructure Partners has swooped to buy Signature Aviation for $4.63bn (£3.43bn), beating a rival offer from private equity outfit Blackstone Group and Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

The $5.50-a-share bid also fended off a potential offer from private equity giant Carlyle and represents a 51% premium on Signature’s closing price on December 16.

Gates’ Cascade Investment currently owns 19% in the London-based private jet maintenance firm, formerly known as BBA Aviation. The bidding dogfight started in December when it emerged the company was up for sale.

“Signature, like many businesses in the aviation sector, needs to address the challenges resulting from Covid, whilst market conditions and earnings are likely to remain subdued for some time,” said GIP chair Adebayo Ogunlesi.

“As an experienced, long term infrastructure investor with a strong operational focus, we believe that we are the ideal partner for Signature going forward. GIP recognises that the near-term outlook for the business & general aviation segment remains uncertain with conditions likely to remain subdued for some time.”

Ogunlesi said Signature would face long-term challenges from structural changes to the industry “including an increasing focus on the environmental impacts of air travel”, but believes the company, which owns the largest network of fixed-base operator bases in the US, was well place to help develop the industry’s response.

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