New York, United States and Male, Maldives:
Blackstone (NYSE: BX) has announced that a private equity fund managed by Blackstone on behalf of its private equity investors has acquired a controlling interest in two Maldives-based seaplane operators C Maldivian Air Taxi ȡMATС and Trans Maldivian Airways ѡTMAС. Following the transaction, Mr. Lars Erik Nielsen (Founder, MAT), Mr. Lars PetrѨ and Mr. Hussain Afeef (majority shareholders, TMA) will retain a substantial shareholding and continue to play a significant role in the companies, including serving as directors on the board. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Seaplane Base of the Male' International Airport, Maldives (Photo: Business Wire)
Maldives is a popular tourist destination with over 1,000 islands. With a unique ơoneΨCisland oneCresortȡ concept, Maldives has witnessed a strong increase in tourist arrivals over the last ten years with 2012 witnessing an all-time high tourist arrival of almost one million tourists. Established in 1989, TMA is the oldest air services operator in the Maldives and operates over 20 seaplanes. Established in 1992, Maldivian Air Taxi has grown to become the biggest seaplane operator in the world. Together the two airlines will operate 44 seaplanes and conduct well over 100,000 flights per year making them the worldϡs largest Twin Otter operator on land or sea. MAT and TMA connect resort islands with the Hulhule International airport. Both airlines are based on the Hulhule Airport Island in Maldives and together employ over 900 people.
Prakash Melwani, Senior Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer at Blackstoneϡs Private Equity unit based in New York, said ϡMaldives is a unique and highly desirable holiday destination. Our investment in MAT and TMA will enable us to build a strong partnership with the Maldives. We have been impressed by the quality of the management teams of both companies and the sophistication of their operations. We are excited to partner with MAT and TMA, whose seaplane operations have contributed significantly to the development of resort islands further away from Male and making them accessible to tourists. Blackstone manages, through its portfolio companies, the largest number of hotel rooms in the world and this transaction marks our sustained enthusiasm for the travel and tourism space.С
Mr. Lars PetrѨ (Chairman, TMA) said, ơWe have partnered with Blackstone, one of the leading private equity firms in the world, to help take our business and tourism in the Maldives to the next level. The Maldivian economy will gain from the presence of one of the worldСs largest and most respected investment firms.ϡ
Mr. Lars Nielsen, (Chairman, MAT), said ѡWe are extremely happy to partner with Blackstone in the combined enterprise. With their strong network and operational focus, Blackstone will contribute significant value to the venture. This will be beneficial to the employees and enhance their career growth. In addition, together we look forward to delivering more efficient services to the tourists coming to the Maldives and the resorts in which they are staying. This combination will increase service efficiency to our resorts.С
Mr. Hussain Afeef (Director, TMA), further added ѡWe are committed to playing a significant role in building the tourism industry in the Maldives. Blackstone will bring to Maldives a wide global experience and an established track record in the tourism and hospitality sector. Incorporating global best practices would be beneficial not just to the companies but to the tourism industry, in general.С
Deutsche Bank (NYSE:DB) and HSBC (NYSE:HBC) served as buy-side advisors on the transaction. The sellers were advised by Churchill Capital and Northern Lights.
Blackstone is one of the worldѡs leading investment and advisory firms. We seek to create positive economic impact and long-term value for our investors, the companies we invest in, the companies we advise and the broader global economy. We do this through the commitment of our extraordinary people and flexible capital. Our alternative asset management businesses include the management of private equity funds, real estate funds, hedge fund solutions, credit-oriented funds and closed-end funds. Blackstone also provides various financial advisory services, including financial and strategic advisory, restructuring and reorganization advisory and fund placement services. Further information is available at www.blackstone.com. Follow us on Twitter @Blackstone.
About Maldivian Air Taxi
Maldivian Air Taxi was set up in 1992 to provide sea plane transfer services in Maldives. Based in the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport, MAT operates over 20 De Havilland Twin Otter aircraft. It offers a wide range of services from excursions to photo flights and charters, in addition to providing transfer services for tourists arriving in Maldives. See http://www.maldivianairtaxi.com/ for more details.
About Trans Maldivian Airways
The company was started in 1988, as a helicopter operator under the name Hummingbird in Maldives. In 1998, Lars PetrϨ, Hussain Afeef and Mohammed Moosa invested in the company and rebranded it to Trans Maldivian Airways and changed the fleet to Twin Otter only. It currently operates over 20 Twin Otters. During 2011, TMA took delivery of three brand new DHCƩ\6\400 aircraft. TMA operates its own Sea Plane Terminal at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport, with 13 exclusive lounges for select resorts.
See http://www.tma.com.mv for more details.