Milestone Aviation Group, the first global specialty finance company focused exclusively on the helicopter and private jet markets, this week announced that it has secured US$500 million of equity capital commitments to launch its business. U.S. middle-market private equity firm The Jordan Company led the investor team, in partnership with Nautic Partners.
The launch marks the return of Richard Santulli to the aviation industry. Milestone is the culmination of Santulli’s nearly 40 years of experience in helicopters, private jets and finance. Santulli is best known for inventing the fractional jet ownership industry and growing NetJets into a successful multinational corporation and one of the world's premier brands. Prior to starting NetJets, he founded and grew RTS Helicopters to become the world’s largest helicopter lessor, and ran equipment leasing for Goldman Sachs. Santulli serves as Chairman of Milestone’s Board of Directors. He and the rest of Milestone’s management team have purchased, operated and financed more private aircraft than anyone in the world.
“Milestone brings together my experience in helicopters, private jets and finance to address an important and underserved market niche,” said Santulli. “Starting a new business when I see a marketplace opportunity is what I love to do. Today, many good helicopter operators worldwide cannot get access to capital despite a demand for their services. At Milestone, we believe the quality of an operator should be defined by more than just its balance sheet.”
“No one knows this industry better than Richard Santulli and the Milestone team,” said John W. Jordan II, Chairman and Managing Principal of The Jordan Company. “We couldn’t imagine a more highly qualified partner for this deeply compelling market opportunity. In the future, I suspect that people will point to Milestone as yet another example of this management team’s visionary leadership.”
Headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, Milestone is the first global specialty finance company focused exclusively on helicopters and private jets. Milestone provides aircraft owners and operators worldwide with personalised financing options not otherwise available. The Company offers 100% financing on new, pre-owned and sale-leaseback transactions. Customers select their own aircraft and, following a credit review process of 3-5 days, Milestone purchases the aircraft and enters into a lease agreement with the customer. Customers operate the leased aircraft and cover all operating costs without bearing residual risk.
“Our entire management team has experience in running an aviation company, which helps us uniquely understand our customers’ needs,” said William Kelly, Milestone’s Chief Executive Officer who most recently was the CEO of NetJets Europe. “We understand safety, flight operations and maintenance. We believe it is important to look beyond a company’s capital structure into the hangar and cockpit to evaluate the true quality of an operator.”
In the helicopter market, leasing enables customers to stretch their capital further and allows them to compete for lucrative contracts. Key markets include: oil and gas exploration and production; air medical service; search and rescue; law enforcement; environment; construction; Coast Guard and other government contracts; fire fighting; forestry; mining; and utility work.
In the private jet market, leasing allows customers to free up capital and avoid residual risk. Target customers include public and private corporations, high net worth individuals and customers looking for an interim solution while they await a future delivery.
“Milestone offers us another compelling opportunity to invest in the leasing of transportation related assets,” said Richard Caputo, Managing Principal of The Jordan Company. “We see strong growth drivers for the business and think the Milestone team is uniquely qualified to capitalise on this underserved market.”
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