GTCR, Platform in $435m aviation deal

GTCR Golder Rauner has agreed its first aviation deal in its nearly 30-year history in partnership with Platform Partners: the buy-and-build acquisition of the airport services business of Landmark Aviation.

US firms GTCR Golder Rauner and Platform Partners have agreed to acquire the fixed base operator businesses of Landmark Aviation from Dubai Aerospace Enterprises for $435 million (€301 million). The two firms plan to merge the business, which provides fueling and maintenance services for general aviation aircraft, with Platform portfolio company Encore FBO.

The resulting organisation will operate as Landmark Aviation, and will be composed of 42 FBOs in North America and Western Europe. GTCR will own 70 percent of the business, and Platform will own 30 percent.

Dubai Aerospace Enterprises acquired Landmark Aviation, along with Standard Aero, from The Carlyle Group in August for a combined $1.9 billion. When the US government approved the transaction, it required that Dubai sell off Landmark’s FBO business for “national security reasons”, GTCR principal Craig Bondy told PEO.

Houston-based Platform partnered with the former management of FBO Trajen Holdings in 2006 to create Encore, a platform for a buy-and-build strategy. The company currently operates four FBO locations in the US and three in Europe. Bondy said Platform and GTCR have set aside additional capital to fund further add-on acquisitions for the company.

The Landmark deal is 28-year-old GTCR’s first acquisition in the aviation industry. The Chicago-based firm has traditionally focussed on the business services and outsourcing, consumer products and services, healthcare, technology and transaction processing sectors. But in recent years the growth trends in the aviation industry captured the firm’s interest.

“We’ve been looking at a number of deals [in the aviation sector] during the last five years,” Bondy said. “There are some long-term cyclical growth trends that are going to drive increased use of aviation, and the FBOs are uniquely positioned to benefit from increased fuel volume and increased general aviation usage.”