Korea Transport Asset Management (KOTAM) is in the lead to take a majority stake in AirAsia's aircraft leasing unit, Reuters has reported.

Citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter, Reuters says the proposed deal values the leasing platform at around $900 million. However, negotiations with other parties are continuing.

Korea Development Bank will also play a role in providing funding for the deal, adds the Reuters report.

AirAsia did not respond to requests from FlightGlobal for comment, while enquiries to Asia Aviation Capital were referred to the financial advisers on the sale.

Malaysian bank RHB is leading the sale process, in conjunction with BNP Paribas and Credit Suisse.

BNP Paribas would not comment when contacted by FlightGlobal, while representatives of RHB and Credit Suisse were not available.

A recent note from Alliance DBS Research suggested that the sale of an 80% stake in Asia Aviation Capital could value the unit at just over $1 billion, based on a price-to-book-value ratio of 1.5. It cited Bohai Capital's 2016 takeover of Avolon, at a multiple of 1.4, as a precedent.

The research house expects the deal to sell the lessor is to be finalised before the end of March, and to close by the end of June.

If KOTAM is confirmed as the successful bidder, it will come as some surprise to industry observers who foresaw that Chinese institutions – such as Ping An Leasing – would bid strongly for the leasing platform.

Asia Aviation Capital leases Airbus A320s to a number of AirAsia Group carriers. Flight Fleets Analyzer also shows that it has three A320s leased to GX Airlines, two to Lucky Air, and one to West Air.

Source: Cirium Dashboard