Business Aviation News

Japan’s SMFL to Acquire Stake in Libra Group Subsidiary LCI

Japan’s SMFL to Acquire Stake in Libra Group Subsidiary LCI

Japanese leasing company Sumitomo Mitsui Finance and Leasing (SMFL) agreed to acquire a 35% stake in Libra Group’s aviation subsidiary LCI to cultivate the midsize helicopter market in Japan.

SMFL and Libra Group plan to expand LCI’s business by US$1.5 billion over the coming years. This expansion of the U.K.-based company will be achieved through significant capital investment by shareholders.

In addition, the two companies also signed a framework agreement and are likely to strengthen collaboration across additional Libra Group industries and business verticals.

“We expect to progressively grow and deepen our relationship with SMFL over the years, our long-term outlook and belief system are strikingly similar. The possibilities for collaboration are endless, from aviation, to maritime, to renewable energy, to all that lies in between,” said Libra Group Executive Chairman George M. Logothetis.

LCI, the world’s second-largest helicopter leasing company, launched a US$230 million helicopter leasing joint venture of 19 next-generation helicopters with SMFL in 2020. Since then, the joint venture has expanded to over 50 aircraft valued at over US$550 million.

Despite operational and technical challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, LCI has managed to build a robust helicopter leasing, management and investment platform. The subsidiary company is set to strengthen its position in the Asian market, where approximately one-third of its leased fleet operates, through investment from SMFL.

“The investment by SMFL into LCI is the next step in what we hope will be a series of strategic collaborations across the helicopter and relevant industries, which enables both of us to further strengthen LCI’s business,” Masaki Tachibana, President of SMFL, said.

LCI’s fleet comprises approximately US$1 billion focused on the latest technology medium and super medium helicopters manufactured by major helicopter OEMs including Leonardo, Airbus, and Sikorsky.

Since its establishment in 2004, LCI has completed over USD$10 billion worth of transactions in the aviation market. In the past year, LCI has been expanding its helicopter fleet while tapping opportunities into the advanced air mobility (AAM) market through major purchase agreements with eVTOL developers such as BETA Technologies and Elroy Air.

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