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Norton Rose Fulbright has advised easyJet on its agreement to buy 135 planes from Airbus in a deal described as a blow to its US rival Boeing.
Both Airbus and Boeing pitched commercial terms to Europe’s second-largest budget carrier in recent weeks, before Airbus emerged as the frontrunner. The total list price of the aircraft would be about $11.5bn (£7.3bn), though easyJet said that it had negotiated a “very substantial” discount.
The move sees easyJet purchase 35 Current Generation A320 aircraft for delivery between 2015 and 2017 under its existing agreement, and 100 New Generation A320neo Aircraft for delivery from 2017 until 2022 under a new agreement. The new terms also give easyJet the option to buy up to 100 further aircraft in the future.
85 of the 135 new aircraft will be used to replace ageing planes as they leave the fleet and return to lessors, with the remaining aircraft used to continue easyJet’s growth strategy. The latest additions will deliver easyJet a fleet of 276 aircraft by 2022.
The agreement stokes a potential clash with easyJet’s founder and largest shareholder, Stelios Haji-Ioannou. He has been a vocal critic of fleet upgrade, demanding management focus on profitability rather than growth.
The Norton Rose Fulbright team was led by aviation finance partner Owen Mulholland with support from aviation finance partners Neil Poland and Alison Baxter and associates Richard Green, James Collins and Emilie-Camille Chesse. EasyJet relationship partner Chris Randall, a corporate lawyer, advised in relation to the listing rules aspects of the agreement, assisted by associate Terri Francis.
Airbus did not instruct external counsel, taking advice instead from in-house lawyer Eric Sahores from its contracts team and fellow in-house lawyer Rosemary Waddingham.
Background to this deal:
Randall has cultivated a relationship with easyJet since advising on the company’s IPO in 2000 as a junior associate at legacy Norton Rose (11 December 2000).
The firm most recently advised easyJet on extending its fleet in January 2011, when it amended an existing order and placed orders for a further 15 aircraft with a list price of $1.1bn.