Airfinance Journal recognized Pillsbury’s Global Asset Finance practice for its role in six 2018 “Deals of the Year” at the publication’s annual awards program on May 2. Winners were recognized at a special ceremony during the 2019 Airfinance Journal North America Conference in New York.

The Airfinance Journal awards seek to recognize the individuals and companies behind the year’s largest and most complex aviation finance transactions. With six more recognitions this year—including the “Overall Deal of the Year”—Pillsbury has now earned 19 total awards from the magazine in just the past four years.

The six pioneering 2018 aviation finance deals for which Pillsbury was honored are:

  • Overall Deal of the Year: ORIX Buys 30 percent Stake in Avolon for $2.2 Billion

The investment in Avolon—the third largest aircraft lessor in the world—substantially strengthen ORIX’s existing presence in the global aircraft leasing market at a time when aircraft demand is projected to rise. The firm’s representation of ORIX was led by partner Paul Jebely and included counsel Eugene Yeung and senior associate Luca Denora.

  • Engine Deal of the Year: Willis Lease Finance Corp’s WEST IV $373.4m ABS for 55 engines

The $373.4 million 144A transaction was the largest engine financing of the year, featuring a large pool of engines and one 737-800 airframe. The firm’s representation of Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith Inc., MUFG Securities Americas Inc. and Wells Fargo Securities, LLC as underwriters, and Bank of America, N.A., as initial liquidity facility provider, was led by partners Mark Lessard and David Baxter and included partners Melissa Jones-Prus and Harsha Reddy, special counsel Jason Greenberg, senior associates Alexandra Calcado and David Flickinger and associate Issac Lee.

  • ABS Deal of the Year: GECAS STARR’s 2018-1 $687m ABS financing for 24 aircraft

This transaction brought a new development into the asset-backed securitization (ABS) market last year: the first aircraft ABS transaction to utilize a 144A Tradeable E-Note. The firm’s representation of Natixis, as liquidity provider, was led by partner Mark Lessard and included partner Melissa Jones-Prus, senior associate David Flickinger and associates Gloria Kim and Issac Lee.

  • Middle East & Africa Deal of the Year: Ethiopian Airlines’ $670m AFIC-supported financing for eight Boeing aircraft

Ethiopian Airlines became the first African carrier to raise financing through the Aircraft Finance Insurance consortium (AFIC) structure. The financing also marked the first AFIC structure with a commercial junior debt. The firm’s representation of Ethiopian Airlines was led by partner Charlotta Otterbeck and included partner Harsha Reddy and special counsel Jason Greenberg.

  • North America Deal of the Year: Zephyrus Aviation Partners’ ZCAP 2018-1 $336.6m 21 aircraft ABS transaction

This transaction involved a newly-launched leasing platform acquiring a substantial portfolio of mid-life aircraft directly into an asset-backed securitization (ABS) structure. The firm’s representation of DVB Bank SE, as liquidity provider, was led by partner Mark Lessard and included partner Melissa Jones-Prus, senior associate David Flickinger and associates Gloria Kim and Issac Lee.

  • Structured Lease Deal of the Year: Smartwings’ Euro-equivalent of $140 million AFIC supported financing of three 737 Max 8s

This financing represents the first time the Czech carrier had used the AFIC-supported financing product. It was also the first time an Irish structure has been used for an airline AFIC deal. The firm’s representation of Smartwings was led by partner Charlotta Otterbeck and included partner Harsha Reddy and special counsel Jason Greenberg.

Pillsbury’s global Asset Finance team serves as a trusted adviser to the most established names in aviation as well as emerging players around the world, including manufacturers, airlines, lessors, financial institutions, corporations, individuals and other investors. Over the past five years, the group has helped a diverse range of market participants get or keep more than 1,600 commercial and business aircraft flying, reflecting an aggregate asset value of more than $75 billion.