Abu Dhabi lessor Oasis International, backed by a New Zealand bank, is poised to take over Australian lessor Ansett Worldwide Aviation Service.

At the end of February, Ad Scheepbouwer, TNT's chief executive officer, was expecting a sale announcement 'in the next couple of weeks'.

Oasis International Leasing, and merchant bank Fay, Richwhite of New Zealand have been talking to TNT and its co-owner, News Corp Ltd, for over a year about buying Awas. If they succeed with the deal, each will own 50 per cent.

Last year Oasis retained appraisers to value the Awas 100-aircraft fleet and mandated a bank syndicate including Chase Manhattan, Credit Suisse, LTCB, and two German banks to arrange $1.3 billion in financing. At this stage it is not known how this sum would be divided between the undisclosed purchase price and working capital.

Oasis was formed last May as part of an offset accord tied to a British Aerospace sale of military jets to the United Arab Emirates. BAe owns 15 per cent of Abu Dhabi-based Oasis. BAe agreed under the offset deal to provide leasing management skills to Oasis. If Oasis succeeds in buying an Awas stake, it could market an aircraft portfolio ranging from BAe turboprops and small jets to the Awas fleet of mostly B767s and A320s.

One local aviation source is surprised that Oasis should be planning to buy into Awas, describing Oasis' US$195 million deal in February to buy and lease back six Airbus A320s to Gulf Air, as a 'washthrough'. If the purchase of Awas goes ahead, Oasis will become a 'real' leasing company, says the source.

Source: Airline Business