Kevin O'Toole/LONDON

A GROUP OF former GPA executives, including part of the team which ran the Irish leasing company's innovative aircraft financing arm in Dublin, are behind the setting up of Pembroke Capital, a new independent financial-services operation.

Pembroke was initially established by three senior managers from the GPA Capital Dublin division at the end of 1993, shortly after GE Capital had stepped in to rescue the cash-strapped Irish lessor.

Michael Dolan, founding president at Pembroke, had been responsible for setting up the GPA Capital operation in 1989 at the height of the boom, with a brief to develop new sources of aircraft funding from capital markets.

The Dublin team pioneered the ALPS aircraft securitisation concept in 1992. GPA parceled a hand picked portfolio of 14 leased aircraft, and raised more than $500 million against it from investors. Many regard the concept, which allows aviation to tap into a massive new source of high debt-rated funding, as crucial to the future of aircraft financing.

The Pembroke founders have been joined, by eight former GPA colleagues, bringing the staff to 20. The company has also raised $16 million in capital, of which half is owned by the management team.

Its aim is to provide financial expertise, using experience built within GPA and generally within Dublin's growing financial-services sector, says chief operating executive Philip Bolger, one of the new managers to arrive from GE Capital/GPA.

The company will also manage assets for investors or institutions which now find themselves owning aircraft, but Bolger stresses that Pembroke has no intentions to become a lessor in its own right.

"We've deliberately positioned ourselves to be independent and flexible, without any baggage," he says, admitting that the opportunity to recapture some of the entrepreneurial spirit of the old GPA team was a "powerful draw".

Pembroke is already administrating the $1 billion ALPS package launched by GPA in 1994 with 27 aircraft, and Bolger does not rule out pitching for future similar asset-management work.

Other leasing companies, airlines and aircraft manufacturers have begun to take an interest in similar financing techniques. City Bank, which handled the original ALPS, is understood to be considering setting up a $1 billion portfolio over the next year.

Source: Flight International