FROM: U.S. EXPORT-IMPORT BANK
Ex-Im Bank Provides $187.4 Million Guarantee for Bond Issuance Supporting Sikorsky Helicopters to Milestone Aviation Group
First Use of Capital-Markets Funding for Ex-Im-Backed Helicopter Exports
Washington, D.C. – The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) is providing a $187.4 million guarantee of a capital-markets bond to finance the export of Sikorsky S-92® helicopters to The Milestone Aviation Group Ltd. of Dublin, Ireland.
The transaction is Ex-Im Bank’s largest financing of US.-manufactured commercial helicopter exports and the agency’s first support of these exports to a helicopter-leasing company.
It is also the first Ex-Im Bank-guaranteed bond issuance in the capital markets to fund helicopter exports. Deutsche Bank Securities was the sole structuring agent and the lead book runner for the bond issuance on May 22. The bond was priced at par to yield 1.87 percent.
The export sale supports approximately 1,500 jobs in the U.S. helicopter industry, according to Ex-Im Bank estimates derived from Departments of Commerce and Labor data and methodology. The S-92® helicopters are being manufactured at Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. facilities in Stratford, Conn., and Coatesville, Pa. Principal subcontractors also involved in the manufacture are Hamilton Sundstrand, Rockwell Collins and General Electric.
"Ex-Im Bank’s capital-markets financing has proven to be a successful way to fund exports of U.S.-made large commercial aircraft. Extending this type of funding to helicopter exports will help support more American jobs and more companies in the very competitive U.S. aerospace industry," said Ex-Im Bank Chairman and President Fred P. Hochberg.
The exports were initially financed by a commercial bridge facility that will be replaced by the funds raised by the issuance of the capital-markets bond. The helicopters are being delivered under a number of separate contracts, both directly with the Milestone Aviation Group and as part of sale-leaseback agreements. The end users are five different Milestone customers, and the S-92® helicopters will be operated in the United Kingdom, Norway and Brazil. Deliveries began in November 2012 and end in May 2013.
"The Sikorsky S-92® is a modern design, heavy-lift rotorcraft that brings economic efficiencies to our operators, and it is a very important part of the oil-and-gas and search-and-rescue market segments. Ex-Im Bank’s capital-markets financing facilitates the business transaction of this large capital investment. This financing vehicle makes the S-92® helicopter an even better fit for our customers," said Bob Kokorda, vice president of Worldwide Sales for Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.
Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. is a global leader in the design, manufacture and service of commercial and military rotary-wing and fixed-wing aircraft. The company has a U.S.-based workforce of approximately 13,000 employees, including 6,630 in Stratford, Conn., and 875 in Coatesville, Pa.
"We are proud to have been selected by Ex-Im Bank as the partner for their largest helicopter financing and the first capital-markets transaction to support the export of U.S.-manufactured helicopters," said Milestone Aviation Group Chairman Richard Santulli. "The support of Ex-Im Bank, and the dedication and professionalism of its Transportation team, has been instrumental in helping us place Sikorsky aircraft internationally and given us the confidence to order more units of the world-class S-92®."
Milestone Aviation Group is the first global aircraft leasing company to focus exclusively on helicopters. Milestone partners with helicopter operators globally and supports them through 100 percent operating-lease financing. The company provides financing for helicopters, serving primarily the offshore oil-and-gas industry as well as search-and-rescue, emergency medical services, police surveillance, mining and other utility missions. Since launching in August 2010, Milestone has acquired more than 90 aircraft valued at more than $1.3 billion and closed leases with 21 operators in 20 countries.