Helicopter lessor and management company LCI signed partnerships with financial institutions Investec and Grupo Santander, and added a Leonardo AW169 financed by Investec to its fleet, it said this week at Heli-Expo 2020. The AW169 is being placed on a long-term lease with an unnamed European B2B rotor services provider, the Dublin-based lessor said.
LCI, a division of global conglomerate Libra Group, also concluded an asset-backed financing arrangement with Grupo Santander for one of its Leonardo AW189 helicopters, valued at $15 million, currently on a long-term lease with a European operator.
Last year, LCI concluded more than $400 million in financing and refinancing arrangements, almost doubling its managed rotor fleet—focused on late-model medium and super-medium platforms—to some 100 aircraft valued at about $1 billion, said executive chairman Crispin Maunder.
That growth came as the half-decade downturn in the oil and gas sector bankrupted some high-profile lessors. Indeed, Maunder said much of last year’s growth came from additions to its managed aircraft roster, as institutions in possession of bankrupted lessors’ fleets put 34 helicopters in LCI’s hands. The company also added seven owned aircraft to its balance sheet.
Most of LCIs rotors are operating in the emergency medical services, search-and-rescue, and wind farm markets, Maunder said, while oil and gas accounts for 25 percent of its portfolio. The downturn has also scaled back banks’ appetites for rotorcraft lending, he added, but LCI is able to find financing outside “traditional channels.”
Looking forward, “Our view of this market is that it’s coming off the bottom—certainly, the trend is positive,” Maunder said. However, older technology helos are becoming “less and less relevant,” as lessees seek more advanced replacements.