Carlyle in $600m aircraft partnership

The move marks Carlyle’s expansion into aviation investing as a line of business.

The Carlyle Group and RPK Capital Management have formed a new company that the firms say will purchase more than $1bn of assets in the commercial aviation sector.

Carlyle agreed to invest $600 million in global commercial aviation assets with the Chicago-based aircraft leasing and investment company.

The $600m in equity comes from Carlyle Partners V, Carlyle Strategic Partners II, RPK principals and other investors.

RPK was founded in 2004 by four veterans of the aviation industry: James Raff, Paul Redman, Robert Gates and Christopher Chaput, who have experience in acquiring, leasing, remarketing and financing aircraft.

Aviation finance has been increasingly targeted by alterantive investment groups in recent years. Guggenheim Partners and Fortress Investment Group also manage aviation investment units.

Carlyle has some experience in the space. Last month the firm sold Vought Aircraft, a parts manufacturer for airplanes, to Triumph Group for $1.44 billion, including $525 million in cash. The deal included the retirement of Vought debt. Once the deal closes, Carlyle will own 31 percent of the outstanding stock in Triumph, which also makes parts for airplanes.

Last year, TPG-controlled XOJET secured another large financing round, bringing its total raised since 2007 to roughly $3.3 billion. TPG and Abu Dhabi investment firm Aabar led the most recent round, comprising $100 million in equity and $370 million in debt that allows for the purchase of new and used aircraft.