The contest for Signature Aviation, which changed its name from BBA Aviation about a year ago, pits three of the world’s top financial investors against each other while drawing in Microsoft Corp. founder Gates, the world’s third-richest man. Infrastructure funds are flush with cash and are locking horns over investment targets.
GIP, led by former Credit Suisse executive Adebayo Ogunlesi, already owns aviation assets including Edinburgh airport. It said it sees opportunities for organic growth at Signature and bolt-on acquisitions.
“We plan to put customer service, operational consistency and growth at the heart of our strategy supported by plans to continue to improve employee engagement and through targeted investment,” Ogunlesi said in a statement.
Signature Aviation shares were up 8.3% to 439.60 pence as of 10:18 a.m. in London. The shares have gained more than 50% since mid-December, when talks with Blackstone were first reported.
GIP’s recent deals include a $10.1 billion acquisition of natural-gas pipelines from Abu Dhabi as part of a consortium. In August, Bloomberg reported it was weighing a joint bid with Blackstone for Kansas City Southern railroad.
GIP made an earlier, lower offer in December that was rejected by Signature Aviation. Blackstone teamed with Microsoft Corp. founder Gates’s Cascade Investment LLC after its December approach, and has until Jan. 14 to formalize its interest. Carlyle has until Feb. 4.
Private flying is one of the few travel sectors to have benefited from the coronavirus pandemic, offering the well-heeled the opportunity to continue traveling while minimizing potentially risky contact with other passengers.