AIG-owned US lessor International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC) has raised $1.99 billion toward paying down debt ahead of its possible divestment by selling 53 aircraft to Macquarie Group.

The Australian group's Macquarie Bank subsidiary is to buy 47 of the aircraft for $1.67 billion, with Macquarie AirFinance, of which it owns 37.5%, acquiring the remaining six. The transaction is due to be completed by year-end.

The 47 aircraft destined for Macquarie Bank, which have an average age of less than four years, are on lease to 35 airlines in 27 countries for an average remaining term that exceeds five years, says Macquarie. Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 family aircraft make up more than 70% of the portfolio, and the rest are in-production widebodies, it adds.

ILFC has seen its cost of debt soar following the US government's multibillion dollar bailout of insurance giant AIG, since which the lessor has been for sale. However, "recent successes in the financial markets" have raised over $4 billion in new financing, says Alan Lund, who replaced John Plueger as ILFC president and chief executive last month. Plueger had been in the role only since February, when he stepped in after co-founder and long-time head Steven Udvar-Hazy retired.

Source: Flight International