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How CTFE and NWS pulled off the M&A deal of the year with the Goshawk sale

Not only did CTFE and NWS keep aircraft leasing firm Goshawk alive through the pandemic – a difficult time for air travel – the partners went on to sell it to SMBC Aviation Capital for $6.7 billion.

The $6.7 billion sale of aircraft leasing firm Goshawk by its owners CTFE and NWS to the SMBC Aviation Capital was one of most significant deals last year. What made it particularly noteworthy was that it came from a sector that had been under unprecedented levels of stress.

Already reeling under the impact of the pandemic having severely curtailed air travel for over two years, the airline business had to contend with a high interest rate environment in early 2022, and an atmosphere of global uncertainty following the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Adding to the complexity of Goshawk deal was a business spread over 30 countries. CTFE and NWS being able to negotiate all these obstacles and secure a premium valuation impressed the jury at the FinanceAsia awards enough for the Goshawk sale to win the best M&A deal for 2022.

Goshawk was first started by CTFE in 2013 with a fleet of just 10 aircraft. NWS Holdings came on board as a partner in 2015, a time when the fleet size had expanded to 27. However, Goshawk quickly transformed into one of the world’s fastest growing global lessors, acquiring Sky Leasing in 2018 and rapidly increasing the size of its fleet to 200 aircraft.

The pandemic brought a fresh wave of challenges, with air travel being among the first and most severely affected sectors. What helped Goshawk tide through this crisis was its swift and decisive response in crisis management and strong position entering the pandemic.

This performance helped Goshawk not just survive through the pandemic but secure an impressive price tag for its sale. The valuation has been attributed to finding the right buyer with experience and understanding of the business — SMBC Aviation Capital is currently the world’s second largest lessor by number of aircraft. Another aspect was Goshawk approaching lessees through the pandemic with restructuring plans, thus keeping its assets in a healthy shape, pushing the buyer towards a premium valuation.

To know more about the modalities of the deal, and how the partners managed the challenges inherent in the dealmaking process, we spoke to Jacob Lee, senior VP at CTFE; and Gilbert Ho, executive director and COO at NWS Holdings.

Please watch the interview below.



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