By Anirban Sen and David French
(Reuters) – SMBC Aviation Capital, one of the world’s biggest aircraft lessors, is nearing a deal to acquire smaller rival Goshawk for about $7 billion, including debt, people familiar with the matter said on Friday.
The deal between the two privately held, Dublin, Ireland-based lessors could be announced as soon as next week, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity. It would create a global aircraft leasing giant as consolidation sweeps the industry.
Last year, the world’s two largest aircraft leasing companies, Ireland’s AerCap and GE’s leasing arm GECAS, merged in a deal worth more than $30 billion.
SMBC Aviation Capital, which is owned by a consortium including Japan’s Sumitomo Corp and Sumitomo Mitsui (NYSE:) Financial Group, has a fleet of more than 750 owned, managed and committed aircraft, mostly Boeing (NYSE:) and Airbus short-haul models, according to its website.
Goshawk, which is a 50-50 joint venture between Hong Kong-based conglomerate NWS Holdings Limited and Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Limited, has an owned, managed and committed fleet that consists of 222 aircraft, its website showed.
A spokesperson for SMBC Aviation Capital declined comment. Goshawk did not immediately respond to a comment request.
The trade publication AirFinance Journal first reported the talks between the two companies in November.
A flurry of deals has reshaped a global air finance industry that has attracted a huge swathe of capital in recent years.
The aviation investment arm of private equity firm Carlyle Group (NASDAQ:) Inc agreed last year to buy aircraft leasing company Fly Leasing (NYSE:) Ltd for $2.36 billion, including debt. In December, Carlyle’s aviation arm also agreed to buy Irish leasing firm AMCK Aviation’s portfolio of aircraft.