LCI Helicopters scores $325M credit facility

CIT, Nomura and BNP Paribas acted as joint lead arrangers and bookrunners, with participation from nine other lenders and banks from around the globe.  

LCI Helicopters, the helicopter leasing arm of Dublin-based aviation leasing company Lease Corporation International, has closed a five-year $325 million asset-backed credit facility. The facility was over-subscribed, which resulted in an option to increase it to $425 million. The transaction was supported by commitments from three main institutions acting as joint lead arrangers and bookrunners: CIT Group, Nomura Corporate Funding Americas and BNP Paribas, LCI announced on Wednesday (1 October).

The commitments for the facility come from a total of eleven lenders in North America, Europe and Asia, including nine newcomers to LCI Helicopters.

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

The funds will be used to expand the company's helicopter fleet, including acquiring new medium and heavy twin engine helicopters for onward lease to helicopter operators. Financing from CIT was provided by CIT Bank, the US commercial bank subsidiary of CIT, the New York-based lender announced. Further terms of CIT’s transaction were not disclosed.

“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,” Jaspal Jandu, LCI’s chief financial officer, said in a statement.

“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,” added Chris Cantwell, group head of CIT Corporate Finance, Aerospace & Defense.

 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, as well as the new Airbus EC225e, for which LCI is a launch customer.

LCI announced almost $1 billion in new orders at the HAI Heli-Expo in Anaheim, California, earlier this year and has also attracted a $100 million investment from KKR Financial Holdings to address growing oil and gas sector demand.

Since its inception in 2004, LCI has acquired fixed wing and rotary aircraft with a combined value of $6 billion. LCI is the aviation leasing arm of the London-based Libra Group, an international private investment business that was started by the Greek Logothetis shipping family in 2003. The group primarily deals in five core sectors, shipping, aviation, real estate hospitality and energy.