Macquarie nixes deal to partner with Universal

 - February 26, 2008, 5:50 AM

Universal Weather & Aviation’s deal to enter into a partnership with Australia’s Macquarie Group is off, according to both companies. On November 21, Universal chairman and owner Greg Evans signed an agreement to partner with a Macquarie Capital Alliance Group and Macquarie Global Opportunities Partners consortium. The agreement called for the Macquarie consortium to buy a stake in Universal for $160 million, valuing the company at $525 million.

On February 11, Macquarie announced, “Universal and the consortium have agreed not to proceed with the investment at this time.” In a statement, Macquarie said, “The decision follows unanticipated legal proceedings commencing against a 51-percent-owned subsidiary of Universal, the outcome of which may not be known in the short term.”

Macquarie is referring to handling company Far East Russia Aircraft Services (Feras), of which Universal owns 51 percent. On January 6, two Feras officers were arrested and indicted for conspiring to steal information involved in servicing U.S. Department of Defense fuel contracts. Universal said that it was cooperating fully with the investigation and that Universal “is not named as a defendant and is not accused of any wrongdoing.”

In a statement about Macquarie’s decision, Universal said, “Because these proceedings are ongoing, the company cannot comment specifically on the allegations at this time.”