Waypoint Leasing last week further cemented its place as the second largest helicopter leasing company by acquiring 31 helicopters from First Reserve. The transaction was called Project Hover.
The portfolio consist of 18 AgustaWestland AW139s, 11 Sikorsky S-92s and two Sikorsky S76C++ aircraft that First Reserve had financed for CHC using export credit during the height of the credit crunch. Waypoint will refinance this debt.
Just as significantly, Waypoint’s three original shareholders – MSD Capital, Soros Fund Management and Cartesian Capital Group – have also increased invested another $75 million. Waypoint now has $450 million in equity which will allow it to keep growing.
The speed at which Waypoint has grown is impressive. Waypoint only closed its equity in June 2013. So, in 18 months it will have added $1.2 billion of helicopters. Ed Washecka, CEO of Waypoint Leasing, says this is partly because Milestone led the way selling the benefits of operating leasing. “One of our investors calls its second mover advantage,” says Washecka.
Milestone, which now has more than $2 billion of helicopters, announced that it had hit the $1 billion mark in February 2013 after launching in August 2010.
We are probably going to see an end to such quick growth. In the last four years, according to our estimates, new style operating leasing companies have closed leases on helicopters worth $4.7 billion. They have orders and options worth another $10 billion. This is astonishing growth.
The next 12 months should be less frantic. Bristow and CHC are not looking to close as many leases in 2015 and oil and gas market is looking more subdued. The sale of Milestone to Gecas and Hover to Waypoint Leasing, are key milestones (or waypoints) in the development of the helicopter leasing market.