Chinese group to buy AIG’s plane leasing firm for up to $4.8 billion

NEW YORK/HONG KONG, Mon Dec 10, 2012 — American International Group Inc. is to sell nearly all of ILFC, the world’s second-largest airplane leasing business, to a Chinese consortium for up to $4.8 billion, giving the fastest growing aviation market easier and cheaper access to planes.

Chinese firms have shown interest in aircraft leasing before, and the deal would give China access to a global network of about 200 airlines in 80 countries. China is already ILFC’s largest market with 180 planes operating there, giving it 35 percent market share.

“It’s the biggest deal we have in the aircraft leasing world and it’s very ambitious,” said Paul Sheridan, head of Asia at aviation consultancy firm Ascend Advisor. “We believe there are not enough aircraft on order in China at the moment. It will help Chinese airlines get more aircraft.”

The world’s two largest planemakers – Airbus, owned by aerospace group EADS, and U.S. rival Boeing — have predicted demand for $4.5 trillion worth of passenger jets over the next two decades, with about two-thirds of new planes sold in the Asia-Pacific region, and China as the biggest single market in value terms.