Blackstone invests in Maldives airlines

The global private equity firm has taken a majority stake in two of the country’s airline operators.

The Blackstone Group has invested in two Maldives-based seaplane operators, Maldivian Air Taxi and Trans Maldivian Airways, according to a company statement. The firm did not disclose the financial details of the transactions but said it took a controlling interest in the businesses. 

No one at Blackstone was available for further comment before press time.

Deutsche Bank and HSBC served as the buy-side advisors on the transaction. The sellers were advised by Churchill Capital and Northern Lights, the statement said.

Trans Maldivian Airways is the oldest air services operator in the Maldives operating over 20 seaplanes, according to the firm. Maldivian Air Taxi was established in 1992 and together the two airlines will operate 44 seaplanes and conduct over 100,000 flights per year. The airlines connect resort islands with the Hulhule International airport and together employ over 900 people.


Blackstone acquires Maldivian Air Taxi

The Maldives, comprised of over 1000 islands located southwest of Sri Lanka, are known for a robust tourist industry. During 2012, the islands received almost one million tourists, an all-time high for the country, Blackstone said. 

“We have been impressed by the quality of the management teams of both companies and the sophistication of their operations,” Prakash Melwani, senior managing director and chief investment officer at Blackstone in New York, said in a statement.

“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.”

The Blackstone Group has $210 billion in assets under management as of 3 January 2013, according to Private Equity International’s data division. In January 2012, Blackstone closed on about $16.2 billion for Blackstone Capital Partners VI, ahead of its $15 billion target. The fund is the sixth largest private equity fund ever raised.