Page last updated at 07:17 GMT, Wednesday, 14 April 2010 08:17 UK

Macquarie buys 53 aircraft from bailed-out insurer AIG

AIG was rescued with $182.3bn from the US taxpayer

US insurance giant AIG, which was rescued by the US taxpayer, is to sell 53 aircraft to Australian investment bank Macquarie for about $2bn (£1.3bn).

The passenger jets are owned by AIG's aircraft leasing operation, ILFC, and the cash saved will help repay the $182.3bn cost of bailing out AIG.

ILFC owns the world's largest fleet of aircraft, and said the jets were being sold below their $2.3bn book value.

But ILFC chief executive Alan Lund said it was a good deal for his company.

"ILFCs ability to accomplish significant aircraft sales, together with recent successes in the financial markets, strongly demonstrates ILFC's ability to generate liquidity and de-lever its balance sheet," he said in a statement.

AIG had tried to sell debt-laden ILFC, a big buyer of aircraft from planemakers Boeing and Airbus.

As part of AIG, ILFC had access to favourable funding. But this access ceased as AIG was brought to its knees by the global financial meltdown..

After the sale, Macquarie will have an aircraft fleet of 186 planes, putting it near the top tier of leasing companies, but still far behind ILFC and General Electric's Commercial Aviation.

The bank is likely to use the aircraft to expand in the Asia-Pacific's fast growing travel market.

Macquarie, said to have a cash pile of about $4.2bn, is using the global recession to pick up assets on the cheap. Further aircraft purchases are likely, analysts say.

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