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Chinese Group Buys 80% of AIG Plane Unit for $4.2 Billion

December 10, 2012
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Source: Bloomberg

A Chinese group agreed to buy 80.1 percent of American International Group Inc. (AIG)’s plane-leasing unit for $4.23 billion in the nation’s largest acquisition of a U.S. company.

The International Lease Finance Corp. acquirers, led by New China Trust Co. Chairman Weng Xianding, have an option to buy another 9.9 percent, New York-based AIG said today in a statement. The transaction, which values ILFC at $5.3 billion, passes China Investment Corp.’s $3 billion purchase of a stake in Blackstone Group LP (BX) in 2007 as the biggest Chinese-U.S. deal.

The acquisition gives the group control of the world’s second-largest aircraft lessor as rising travel in China and Asia spurs demand for planes. AIG, which counts the U.S. government as its largest investor, is selling the Los Angeles- based unit as Chief Executive Officer Robert Benmosche focuses on insurance operations and works to reduce debt.

“This ILFC deal squarely places the leasing business where future growth will be,” said Will Horton, a Hong Kong-based analyst at CAPA Centre for Aviation. “There are large opportunities in China, but also in countries like Indonesia andMalaysia.”

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