DaimlerChrysler decides time is ripe to offload shares as airline market recovers

US-based private investment firm Cerberus Capital Management is to acquire Amsterdam-headquartered aircraft lessor Debis AirFinance from DaimlerChrysler and other shareholders.

DaimlerChrysler says Cerberus will take over the company's entire business, including "all of its liabilities". The German-US automotive company, which owns 45% of Debis through DaimlerChrysler Services (35%) and DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (10%), says the transaction remains subject to closing conditions. The other Debis shareholders are German financial institutions Bayerische Landesbank (15%), Dresdner Bank (15%), HypoVereinsbank (15%) and DZ Bank (10%).

Debis's portfolio comprises 141 jet and turboprop aircraft. It also has outstanding orders for new Airbus A320s, and manages 108 aircraft for other parties. It has 113 employees at its headquarters in the Netherlands as well as at its subsidiaries in Ireland and the USA.

"Following a period of consolidation, the aviation industry is now recovering. The growing demand for state-of-the-art aircraft is having a beneficial effect on developments in the aircraft leasing business. That's why this is the right time for us to sell our shares," says Bodo Uebber the member of DaimlerChrysler's board of management responsible for finance, controlling and financial services.

DaimlerChrysler last attempted to sell its Debis stake in 2001, but the company dropped the divestment plan after the terrorist attacks in the USA in September that year.

New York-based Cerberus last year acquired a stake in Air Canada as part of the Star Alliance carrier's bankruptcy reorganisation.

Source: Flight International