Managers to buy Avion's XL Leisure and aircraft trading arms

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Icelandic investment company Avion Group has struck a deal to sell its XL Leisure Group division, which includes its charter interests Excel Airways, Star Airlines and Star Europe, to a team led by XL chief executive Phillip Wyatt.

It has also agreed to sell a 51% stake in its aircraft acquisitions unit Avion Aircraft Trading to a buy-out team including Avion Aircraft Trading executives and the founder of Air Atlanta Icelandic.

Avion had only recently established the XL Leisure Group from its charter and leisure division. The group comprises the UK’s Excel Airways Group, French carrier Star Airlines which it acquired earlier this year and newly-established German operation Star Europe.

Under a $450 million deal, a buy-out team led by XL’s Wyatt will acquire Avion’s 100% stake in the company.

Avion has also sold a 51% stake in Avion Aircraft Trading to a team comprising Avion Aircraft Trading executives, including chairman Hafthor Hafsteinsson and Air Atlanta Icelandic founder Arngrimur Johannsson. As part of the $51 million deal Hafsteinsson will resign as CEO of Avion’s aviation services division.

Last month Avion revealed it was opening up talks on the sale of a majority stake in Avion Aircraft Trading to other bidders, having been in talks with an undisclosed party since the summer. The unit’s portfolio at the end of June consisted of eight Boeing 777-200LR freighters, eight Boeing 747-400 freighters, two Boeing 747-400s and five Airbus A300-600s.

Avion estimates a combined total profit of $154 million from the two sales. Part of the purchase price for both deals is being paid with the proceeds from the sale of the executives’ shares in Avion – amounting to 22% of the company.

Chairman of Avion Magnus Thorsteinsson says: “Avion is an investment company focused on transport solutions. As part of our strategy we are constantly looking for investment opportunities. Similarly if we are able to realise excellent returns for our shareholders, we will divest our interests.

“These two deals represent a substantial return, while retaining an ongoing interest in Avion Aircraft Trading, which generates a good contribution to group profits.”