Bill Gates, Blackstone bid $ 4.3 billion for operator of private jet base


The involvement of Gates means Blackstone becomes the firm favorite to purchase Signature

Gates’s Cascade Investment LLC, the No. 1 shareholder in Signature Aviation, and Blackstone are in advanced discussions with the London-based firm on a $5.17-a-share cash offer

Bill Gates joined the battle for Signature Aviation Plc, allying with Blackstone Group Inc.’s $4.3 billion approach for the world’s biggest operator of private jet bases.

Gates is in advanced discussions with Cascade Investment LLC, the No. 1 shareholder in Signature Aviation and the London-based firm over the Blackstone $ 5.17-a-share cash offer, he said in a statement on Friday. Signature had said that in December it would accept Blackstone’s approach if a concrete proposal was made at that level.

Gates’ involvement means that Blackstone Group has become a favorite to buy Signature after Inc. Thursday said it was also considering a possible proposal. A third suite of Global Infrastructure Partners said in December that it was considering its options after rejecting its lower bid.

Signature shares were trading as low as 4.8% in London as of the bid war prospects of 8:10 am. The stock was priced at 397.90 pence, which was equivalent to $ 5.40 from the offer looted by Blackstone.

Private flight is one of the few travel areas to benefit from the coronovirus epidemic, which provides an opportunity to continue traveling while minimizing potentially risky contact with other passengers.

Under the Blackstone plan, Microsoft Corporation founder Gates, who owns 19% of Signature, contributes to its shareholding and tops it with cash to become a 30% owner. Blackstone owns 70% of the bidding unit.

Carlile Wheels Rival Offer for Gates-backed Signature Aviation Signature, which changed its name from BBA Aviation last year, traces its origins to a Scottish industrial company founded in 1879. It has many names and has focused on private aviation in recent years, with parts distributor Ontic sold for 1.4 billion last year.

The company has also made several acquisitions, purchasing rival Landmark Aviation from Carlyle for $ 2.1 billion in 2016, and acquired Epic Fuels in 2018 for $ 88 million. Gates became an investor in 2009 and holds his stake through Cascade Investment LLC.

According to City Analyst Charles Mortimer, Signature had become the target of more likely acquisitions since simplifying and selling its Ontic unit.

Carlyle is working with Bank of America Corp and Morgan Stanley on its approach, people familiar with the case said, adding that the information is private due to not being identified. The signature confirmed the Carlyle approach and set February 4 as the deadline for a firm resolution. It set a January 14 deadline for formal proposals from Blackstone and GIP.


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