CC and Milbank fly high with RBS aviation sale

Clifford Chance is advising the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) on the sale of its Dublin-based aviation unit RBS Aviation Capital to Japan’s largest bank for $7.3 billion (£4.7 billion).

Corporate partner David Pudge led the multi-jurisdictional deal alongside fellow corporate partners Joel Ziff and Simon Tinkler and aircraft finance partner William Glaister. The team also worked in tandem with tax partner Jonathan Elman and antitrust partner Greg Olsen as well as a number of other partners in its New York, Tokyo, Sydney and Shanghai offices.

US firm Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy acted as the lead advisor to acquiror Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation. The team was led by Elliot Gewirtz, chair of the firm’s global transportation finance department, alongside corporate partner Roland Hlawaty.

RBS Aviation Capital is the world’s fourth largest commercial jet aircraft operating lease company with a fleet of over 200 aircraft. The sale is RBS’s biggest single disposal since the state-backed bank’s government bail-out in 2008 and is the largest-ever aircraft leasing company disposal. Following the announcement of the deal, the bank’s market value climbed around £800m to to £15.2bn.

In July 2011, it was rumoured that Macquarie had plans to acquire RBS Aviation Capital and potential bidders included China Development Bank Corp, Wells Fargo & Co and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group. The latter won the bid after a highly competitive auction process. The sale is subject to antitrust and regulatory approvals but is expected to be completed no later than the end of the third quarter of 2012.