Walkers recently acted as lead counsel for global helicopter and commercial aircraft lessor, LCI, on the establishment of a joint venture helicopter leasing business with Sumitomo Mitsui Finance and Leasing Company Limited (SMFL). The vehicle has launched with the initial acquisition of 19 next generation helicopters with a value of US$230 million. SMFL and LCI are co-investors in the partnership, with LCI also acting as manager. 

On closing the deal, Jaspal Jandu, LCI CFO, said, "This joint venture highlights the opportunities available in the helicopter leasing marketplace, and demonstrates how these aircraft have now become a proven and attractive asset class." It is planned that the fleet acquired through the joint venture will be used by operators worldwide for purposes such as transportation to offshore wind farms, Emergency Medical Services and Search and Rescue. 

Also commenting on the deal, Shinichiro Watanabe, Managing Executive Officer of SMFL, said, "LCI's experience, expertise and reputation makes them a natural business partner for SMFL, and we look forward to working with them and combining our respective financial strengths to jointly and professionally manage a successful and dynamic venture." 

Walkers team was led by Corporate partner Brendan O'Brien and Asset Finance partner David McGovern together with of counsel Killian McSharry, senior associate Eoin Ryan, associates Arianna Marano and Cal Kane and paralegal Jennifer Carey. Walkers also acted as Irish counsel to a number of financial institutions in connection with the financing of the joint venture. 

Corporate partner Brendan O'Brien said, "The transaction was complex and we are delighted to see it successfully closed despite these extraordinary times. This deal demonstrates Walkers' corporate expertise on high value international transactions and confirms our position as a market leader for equity investment work in the aviation industry.  Walkers is pleased to have worked with LCI on this partnership which offers exciting growth for LCI's rotary wing business against a challenging global environment." 

Asset Finance partner David McGovern added, "Congratulations to both LCI and SMFL on this dynamic joint venture. Our team at Walkers is proud to have advised LCI, one of the largest helicopter lessors in the world, on this deal involving the initial acquisition of 19 young modern helicopters which will no doubt be seen in the leasing marketplace as an attractive asset class." 

LCI, the aviation division of the Libra Group, operates across multiple sectors over four continents with offices in Dublin, London and Singapore, and has a fleet that includes US$1 billion of assets in service, on order and under management, focused on the latest technology medium and super medium helicopters manufactured by leading helicopter OEMs including Leonardo, Airbus and Sikorsky.