SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
Annual report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934
For the Fiscal Year Ended December 31, 2007
Transition report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934
For the transition period from to
Commission file number 001-32959
(Exact name of Registrant as Specified in its Charter)
(State or other Jurisdiction of
Incorporation or organization)
300 First Stamford Place, 5th Floor, Stamford, Connecticut 06902
(Address of Principal Executive Offices)
Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (203) 504-1020
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
|Title of Each Class||
Name of Each Exchange
on Which Registered
|Common Shares, par value $.01 per share||New York Stock Exchange|
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes No
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes No
Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer or a smaller reporting company. See definitions of ‘‘large accelerated filer,’’ ‘‘accelerated filer’’ and ‘‘smaller reporting company’’ in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
|Large Accelerated Filer||Accelerated Filer|
|Non-accelerated filer||(Do not check if a smaller reporting company)||Smaller reporting company|
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act)
The aggregate market value of the Registrant’s Common Shares based upon the closing price on the New York Stock Exchange on June 29, 2007 (the last business day of registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter), beneficially owned by non-affiliates of the Registrant was approximately $988.6 million. For purposes of the foregoing calculation, which is required by Form 10-K, the Registrant has included in the shares owned by affiliates those shares owned by directors and executive officers and shareholders owning 10% or more of the outstanding common shares of the Registrant, and such inclusion shall not be construed as an admission that any such person is an affiliate for any purpose.
As of February 21, 2008, there were 78,560,176 outstanding shares of the registrant’s common shares, par value $0.01 per share.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Documents of Which Portions
Are Incorporated by Reference
Parts of Form 10-K into Which Portion
of Documents Are Incorporated
Proxy Statement for Aircastle Limited
2008 Annual General Meeting of Shareholders
(Items 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14)
TABLE OF CONTENTS
|Item 1A.||Risk Factors||11|
|Item 1B.||Unresolved Staff Comments||35|
|Item 3.||Legal Proceedings||35|
|Item 4.||Submission of Matters to a Vote of Security Holders||35|
|Item 5.||Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities||37|
|Item 6.||Selected Financial Data||39|
|Item 7.||Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operation||42|
|Item 7A.||Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk||71|
|Item 8.||Financial Statements and Supplementary Data||73|
|Item 9.||Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure||73|
|Item 9A.||Controls and Procedures||73|
|Item 9B.||Other Information||75|
|Item 10.||Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance||76|
|Item 11.||Executive Compensation||76|
|Item 12.||Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters||76|
|Item 13.||Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence||76|
|Item 14.||Principal Accountant Fees and Services||77|
|Item 15.||Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules||E-1|
SAFE HARBOR STATEMENT UNDER THE
PRIVATE SECURITIES LITIGATION REFORM ACT OF 1995
Certain items in this Annual Report on Form 10-K (this ‘‘report’’), and other information we provide from time to time may constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 including, but not necessarily limited to, statements relating to our ability to acquire, sell and lease aircraft, issue aircraft lease-backed securities or raise other long-term debt on attractive terms, anticipate, manage and address industry trends and their effect on our business, pay and grow dividends, realize gains or income from our debt investments, obtain required licenses and governmental approvals, obtain favorable tax treatment, extend, modify or replace existing financing and increase revenues, earnings, and EBITDA. Words such as ‘‘anticipate(s),’’ ‘‘expect(s),’’ ‘‘intend(s),’’ ‘‘plan(s),’’ ‘‘project(s),’’ ‘‘believe(s),’’ ‘‘will,’’ ‘‘would,’’ ‘‘should,’’ ‘‘seek(s),’’ ‘‘estimate(s)’’ and similar expressions are intended to identify such forward-looking statements. These statements are based on management’s current expectations and beliefs and are subject to a number of factors that could lead to actual results materially different from those described in the forward-looking statements; Aircastle Limited can give no assurance that its expectations will be attained. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from Aircastle Limited’s expectations include, but are not limited to, our customer concentration; our ability to obtain additional capital to finance our working capital needs and our growth and to refinance our short-term debt financings with longer-term debt financings; our ability to acquire aircraft at attractive prices; our continued ability to obtain favorable tax treatment in Bermuda, Ireland and other jurisdictions; our ability to pay or maintain dividends; our ability to lease aircraft at favorable rates; an adverse change in the value of our aircraft; the possibility that conditions to closing of certain transactions will not be satisfied; our ability to realize gains or income from, and to continue to finance, our debt investments; general economic conditions and economic conditions in the markets in which we operate; competitive pressures within the industry and/or markets in which we operate; the creditworthiness of our airline customers; interest rate fluctuations; margin calls on our interest rate hedges; our ability to obtain certain required licenses and approvals; the impact of future terrorist attacks or wars on the airline industry; our concentration of leases in certain geographical regions; and other risks detailed from time to time in Aircastle’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (‘SEC’’), including ‘‘Item 1A. Risk Factors,’’ and elsewhere in this report. Such forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this report. Aircastle Limited expressly disclaims any obligation to release publicly any updates or revisions to any forward-looking statements contained herein to reflect any change in our expectations with regard thereto or change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any statement is based.
WEBSITE AND ACCESS TO COMPANY’S REPORTS
The Company’s Internet website can be found at www.aircastle.com. Our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Exchange Act are available free of charge through our website under ‘‘Investors — SEC Filings’’ as soon as reasonably practicable after they are electronically filed with, or furnished to, the SEC.
Our Corporate Governance Guidelines, Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, and Board of Directors committee charters (including the charters of the Audit Committee, Compensation Committee, and Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee) are available free of charge through our website under ‘‘Investors — Corporate Governance’’. In addition, our Code of Ethics for Chief Executive and Senior Financial Officers, which applies to our Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Accounting Officer, Treasurer and Controller, is available in print, free of charge, to any shareholder upon request to Investor Relations, Aircastle Limited, c/o Aircastle Advisor LLC, 300 First Stamford Place, 5th Floor, Stamford, Connecticut 06902.
The information on the Company’s website is not part of, or incorporated by reference, into this report, or any other report we file with, or furnish to, the SEC.
ITEM 1 — BUSINESS
Unless the context suggests otherwise, references in this report to ‘‘Aircastle,’’ the ‘‘Company,’’ ‘‘we,’’ ‘‘us,’’ or ‘‘our’’ refer to Aircastle Limited and its subsidiaries. References in this report to ‘‘AL’’ refer only to Aircastle Limited. References in this report to ‘‘Aircastle Bermuda’’ refer to Aircastle Holding Corporation Limited and its subsidiaries. References in this report to ‘‘Fortress’’ refer to Fortress Investment Group LLC, affiliates of which manage the Fortress funds, and certain of its affiliates and references to the ‘‘Fortress funds’’ or ‘‘Fortress Shareholders’’ refer to AL shareholders which are managed by affiliates of Fortress. Throughout this report, when we refer to our aircraft, we include aircraft that we have transferred into grantor trusts or similar entities for purposes of financing such assets through securitizations. These grantor trusts or similar entities are consolidated for purposes of our financial statements. All amounts in this report are expressed in U.S. dollars and the financial statements have been prepared in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles or GAAP.
We are a global company that acquires and leases high-utility commercial jet aircraft to passenger and cargo airlines throughout the world. High-utility aircraft are generally modern, operationally efficient jets with a large operator base and long useful lives. As of December 31, 2007, our aircraft portfolio consisted of 133 aircraft that were leased to 58 lessees located in 31 countries, including two aircraft being converted to freighter configuration which are subject to leases that will commence upon completion of the conversions, and managed through our offices in the United States, Ireland and Singapore. Typically, our aircraft are subject to net operating leases whereby the lessee is generally responsible for maintaining the aircraft and paying operational, maintenance and insurance costs, although, in a majority of cases, we are obligated to pay a portion of specified maintenance or modification costs. We also make investments in other aviation assets, including debt investments secured by commercial jet aircraft. As of February 21, 2008, we had acquired and committed to acquire aviation assets having an aggregate purchase price equal to $4.2 billion and $1.5 billion, respectively, for a total of approximately $5.7 billion. Our revenues and income from continuing operations for the year ended December 31, 2007 were $381.1 million and $114.4 million, respectively and for the fourth quarter 2007 were $120.7 million and $33.9 million, respectively.
We expect to benefit from the size and growth of the commercial passenger and cargo aircraft markets and to increase our revenues and earnings by acquiring additional aviation assets to the extent they are accretive to shareholders. The current worldwide mainline commercial fleet (passenger aircraft with 100 seats or more and freighters) consists of nearly 15,000 aircraft and is expected to grow at an average annual growth rate of 4.0% to nearly 33,000 aircraft by 2026, net of retirements. During this period, over 24,000 new aircraft are expected to be delivered, including more than 23,000 passenger aircraft and 900 purpose built freighters, for a total value of approximately $2.8 trillion. In addition, nearly 3,000 passenger aircraft are expected to be converted to freighters during this time period. The market for mainline commercial aircraft is highly fragmented, with nearly 1,000 owners, including airlines, other aircraft lessors and financial institutions.
Both passenger and cargo traffic are expected to continue strong growth trends, with an average annual growth rate through 2026 of 4.9% and 5.8%, respectively. The continued growth in air traffic, driven in large part by emerging markets with strong economic growth and rising levels of per capita air travel, has increased the demand, and lease rates, for certain high-utility aircraft types. We believe that we are well positioned to take advantage of these favorable industry trends with our international platform, experienced management team and flexible capital structure.
We intend to pay regular quarterly dividends to our shareholders and plan to grow our dividends per share through the acquisition of additional aviation assets, using cash on hand and available credit facilities. We expect to finance our acquisitions on a long-term basis using cost effective debt structures such as non-recourse securitizations or similar bank market financings. Securitizations and similarly structured bank market financings allow companies to raise long-term capital by pledging cash flows of an asset pool, such as aircraft leases. In June 2006, we closed our first securitization,
which we refer to as Securitization No. 1, a $560.0 million transaction comprising 40 aircraft and related leases, which were refer to as Portfolio No. 1. In June 2007, we closed our second securitization, which we refer to as Securitization No. 2, a $1.17 billion transaction comprising 59 aircraft and related leases, which we refer to as Portfolio No. 2. We expect that long-term debt to refinance our short-term borrowings and to fund additional investments would also be available to us in the secured bank debt market under a broadly similar security structure.
The table below is a summary of our dividend history. These dividends may not be indicative of the amount of any future dividends.
|Record Date||Payment Date|
|July 20, 2006||$||0||.35||$||14,367||July 26, 2006||July 31, 2006|
|August 2, 2006||$||0||.156||(1 )||6,403||August 1, 2006||August 15, 2006|
|October 9, 2006||$||0||.194||(1 )||9,992||October 31, 2006||November 15, 2006|
|December 13, 2006||$||0||.437||5||22,584||December 29, 2006||January 15, 2007|
|March 14, 2007||$||0||.50||33,634||March 30, 2007||April 13, 2007|
|June 14, 2007||$||0||.60||40,460||June 29, 2007||July 13, 2007|
|September 13, 2007||$||0||.65||43,822||September 28, 2007||October 15, 2007|
|December 11, 2007||$||0||.70||55,004||December 31, 2007||January 15, 2008|
|(1)||Total dividend for quarter of $0.35|
We believe that the following competitive strengths will allow us to capitalize on the growth opportunities in the global aviation industry:
|•||Diversified portfolio of high-utility aircraft. We have a portfolio of high-utility aircraft that is diversified with respect to geographic markets, number of lessees, end markets (i.e., passenger and freight), lease maturities and aircraft type. As of December 31, 2007, our aircraft portfolio consisted of 133 aircraft comprising a variety of passenger and freighter aircraft types that were leased to 58 lessees located in 31 countries, including two aircraft being converted to freighter configuration which are subject to leases that will commence upon completion of the conversions, and had lease maturities ranging from 2008 to 2020. Our lease expirations are well dispersed, with a weighted average remaining lease term of 5.0 years for aircraft we owned at December 31, 2007. While we seek to place our aircraft on lease to operators and on terms that provide the best risk-adjusted returns, many airlines are in a weak financial condition and suffer from liquidity problems. Accordingly, we believe that our focus on portfolio diversification reduces the risks associated with individual lessee defaults and adverse geopolitical or economic issues, and results in generally predictable cash flows.|
|•||Disciplined acquisition approach and broad sourcing network. We evaluate the risk-adjusted return of any potential acquisition first as a discrete investment and then from a portfolio management perspective. To evaluate potential acquisitions, we employ a rigorous due diligence process focused on: (i) cash flow generation with careful consideration of macro trends, industry cyclicality and product life cycles; (ii) aircraft specifications and maintenance condition; (iii) when applicable, lessee credit worthiness and the local jurisdiction’s rules for enforcing a lessor’s rights; and (iv) legal and tax implications. We source our acquisitions through well-established relationships with airlines, other aircraft lessors, financial institutions and other aircraft owners. During 2007, we acquired 65 aircraft through 17 separate transactions with 16 different sources.|
|•||Scalable business platform. We operate globally through offices in the United States, Ireland and Singapore, using a modern asset management system designed specifically for aircraft operating lessors and capable of handling a significantly larger aircraft portfolio. We believe that our facilities, systems and personnel currently in place are capable of supporting an increase in our revenue base and asset base without a proportional increase in overhead costs.|
|•||Experienced management team with significant expertise. Our management team has significant experience in the acquisition, leasing, financing, technical management, restructuring/repossession and sale of aviation assets. This experience enables us to evaluate a broad range of potential investments in the global aviation industry. With extensive industry contacts and relationships worldwide, we believe our management team is highly qualified to manage and grow our aircraft portfolio and to address our long-term capital needs. In addition, our senior management personnel have extensive experience managing lease restructuring and aircraft repossessions, which we believe is critical to mitigate any potential default exposure.|
We plan to grow our business and increase our dividends per share by employing the following business strategies:
|•||Selectively acquire commercial jet aircraft and other aviation assets. We believe the large and growing aircraft market provides significant acquisition opportunities. We regularly evaluate a large number of potential aircraft acquisition opportunities and expect to continue our investment program through additional passenger and cargo aircraft purchases to the extent attractively priced opportunities are available. In addition, we plan to leverage our experience to make opportunistic acquisitions of other asset-backed aviation assets, including debt investments secured by aviation assets and other non-aircraft aviation assets.|
|•||Reinvest a portion of the cash flows generated in our business in additional aviation assets. Aircraft have a finite useful life. Through our strategy of reinvesting a portion of our cash flows in our business, we will seek to maintain our asset base, while paying a regular quarterly cash dividend to our shareholders.|
|•||Maintain an efficient capital structure. We expect to finance aircraft acquisitions on a long-term basis using aircraft lease portfolio securitizations or other debt structures to obtain cost effective non-recourse financing. We believe that our long-term debt structure and dividend payment strategy result in a competitive cost of capital over time and a high degree of financial flexibility, allowing us to capitalize on favorable market conditions to acquire additional aircraft and other aviation assets to optimize the return on our investments and to grow our business.|
We also believe our team’s capabilities in the global aircraft leasing market place us in a favorable position to explore new income-generating activities such as originating and managing third-party investment funds. Moreover, we believe our expertise and contacts in the air freight market may also give rise to alternative investment opportunities.
We source our acquisitions through well-established relationships with airlines, other aircraft lessors, financial institutions and brokers, as well as other sources. We believe that sourcing acquisitions both globally and through multiple channels provides for a broad and relatively consistent set of investment opportunities.
On January 22, 2007, we entered into an asset purchase agreement, which we refer to as the GAIF Acquisition Agreement, with affiliates of Guggenheim Aviation Investment Fund LP, or GAIF, pursuant to which we agreed to acquire 38 aircraft for an aggregate base purchase price of approximately $1.595 billion, subject to certain agreed adjustments. On November 7, 2007, we agreed
with GAIF to remove two aircraft from the GAIF Acquisition Agreement, reducing the total number of aircraft to be acquired to 36, with an aggregate base purchase price of approximately $1.465 billion. For certain of the aircraft, we agreed to make accelerated payments to the relevant sellers and acquire their rights and obligations under the seller’s purchase or freighter conversion agreement, with final payment and delivery of the aircraft to us being made upon delivery by the manufacturer or seller, or completion of the conversion process. We acquired 28 aircraft in 2007 related to this transaction, and of the remaining eight aircraft, we expect to acquire seven in 2008 and one in February 2009. We have made accelerated payments to the relevant GAIF sellers in relation to certain of the aircraft remaining to be delivered in 2008 and 2009.
On June 20, 2007, we entered into an acquisition agreement, which we refer to as the Airbus A330F Agreement with Airbus SAS, or Airbus, under which we agreed to acquire fifteen new A330-200F freighter aircraft, or the New A330F Aircraft. Pre-delivery payments for each aircraft are payable to Airbus and are refundable to us only in limited circumstances. We agreed to separate arrangements with Rolls-Royce PLC, or Rolls-Royce, and Pratt & Whitney, or P&W, pursuant to which we committed to acquire aircraft engines for the New A330F Aircraft. We agreed to acquire six shipsets of Trent 772B engines from Rolls-Royce and were granted options to acquire an additional four shipsets. We also committed to acquire five shipsets of PW4170 engines from P&W, and were granted options to acquire an additional five shipsets. Each shipset consists of two engines. The New A330F Aircraft are scheduled for delivery between June 2010 and November 2011, with five scheduled for delivery in 2010. Under limited circumstances, we have the right to change certain delivery positions from A300-200F freighter configuration aircraft to A330-200 passenger configuration aircraft.
We have an experienced acquisitions team based in Stamford, Connecticut; Dublin, Ireland and Singapore that maintains strong relationships with a wide variety of market participants throughout the world. We believe that our seasoned personnel and extensive industry contacts facilitate our access to acquisition opportunities.
Potential investments are evaluated by teams consisting of marketing, engineering/technical, credit, financial and legal professionals. These teams consider a variety of aspects before we commit to purchase an aircraft, including its price, specification/configuration, age, condition and maintenance history, operating efficiency, lease terms, financial condition and liquidity of the lessee, jurisdiction, industry trends and future redeployment potential and values, among other factors. We believe that utilizing a cross-functional team of experts to consider the investment parameters noted above will help us assess more completely the overall risk and return profile of potential acquisitions and will help us move forward expeditiously on letters of intent and acquisition documentation. Our letters of intent are typically non-binding prior to internal approval, and upon internal approval are binding subject to the fulfillment of customary closing conditions.
Our aim is to develop and maintain a diverse and stable portfolio and, in that regard, our investment strategy is oriented towards longer term holding horizons rather than shorter-term trading.
A key aspect of our growth strategy is our flexible capital structure which supports the financing of our acquisitions of aircraft and other aviation assets. We typically finance the initial purchase of aircraft and other aviation assets using committed short-term credit arrangements and cash on hand. We believe our ability to execute acquisitions expeditiously and without financing contingencies has benefited us in competitive bidding situations. Our short-term borrowed funds for our aircraft acquisitions and repurchase obligations for our securities are provided by secured credit facilities from banks.
We intend to continue funding aircraft acquisitions initially through borrowings under our short-term credit facilities and to repay all or a portion of such borrowings from time to time with the net proceeds from subsequent long-term debt financings and additional equity offerings. Therefore, our ability to execute our business strategy, particularly the acquisition of additional commercial jet aircraft or other aviation assets, depends to a significant degree on our ability to obtain additional debt and equity capital on terms we deem attractive. Given our existing commitments and the volume
of potential aircraft acquisitions, we expect to execute additional long-term debt financing and/or additional equity offerings during the course of the next 12 months. We also intend to extend, modify or replace our short-term credit facilities in 2008. However, the level of new investment activity and, in turn, financing requirements will be driven by the attractiveness of new investment opportunities available to us. Decisions by investors and lenders to enter into such transactions with us will depend upon a number of factors, such as our historical and projected performance, compliance with the terms of our current credit arrangements, industry and market trends, the availability of capital and the relative attractiveness of alternative investments. See ‘‘Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Liquidity and Capital Resources — Credit Facilities, — Securitizations, and — Equity Offerings.’’
We manage our business and analyze and report our results of operations on the basis of two business segments, Aircraft Leasing and Debt Investments. We present our segment information on a contribution margin basis consistent with the information that our Chief Executive Officer (the chief operating decision maker) reviews in assessing segment performance and allocating resources. Contribution margin includes revenue, depreciation, interest expense and other expenses that are directly connected to our business segments. We believe contribution margin is an appropriate measure of performance because it reflects the marginal profitability of our business segments, excluding overhead.
Typically, we lease our aircraft on an operating lease basis. Under an operating lease, we retain the benefit, and bear the risk, of re-leasing and of the residual value of the aircraft upon expiry or early termination of the lease. Operating leasing can be an attractive alternative to ownership for airlines because leasing (i) increases fleet flexibility, (ii) requires a lower capital commitment for the airline, and (iii) significantly reduces aircraft residual value risk for the airline. Under our leases, the lessees agree to lease the aircraft for a fixed term, although certain of our operating leases allow the lessee the option to extend the lease for an additional term. As a percentage of total revenue for the year ended December 31, 2007, our two largest customers, U.S. Airways, Inc. and Sterling Airlines A/S, accounted for 12% and 7%, respectively. As of December 31, 2007, the weighted average (by net book value) remaining term of our leases for aircraft we owned at December 31, 2007 was 5.0 years with scheduled expirations ranging from 2008 through 2020. The maturities of these leases by aircraft type grouping were as follows:
|Other Aircraft Types||—||—||—||1||—||2||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||3|
With regard to the eight aircraft having 2008 scheduled lease expiries, as of December 31, 2007, two are committed for sale upon return from the existing lessee, three are subject to commitments for lease to new customers upon return from the existing lessee, two are scheduled to be inducted into freighter conversion following completion of existing short-term leases in passenger configuration (one of which is committed for lease upon completion of the conversion) and one is actively being marketed for lease.
Lease Payments and Security. Each of our leases requires the lessee to pay periodic rentals during the lease term. Rentals on most of our leases are fixed for the base lease term, although rentals under our leases may instead be payable on a floating interest-rate basis. Most lease rentals are payable either monthly or quarterly in advance. All of the leases are payable in U.S. dollars.
Under our leases, the lessee must pay operating expenses accrued or payable during the term of the lease, which would normally include maintenance, overhaul, fuel, crew, landing, airport and navigation charges, certain taxes, licenses, consents and approvals, aircraft registration and insurance premiums. Typically, under an operating lease, the lessee is required to make payments for heavy maintenance, overhaul or replacement of certain high-value components of the aircraft. These maintenance payments are based on hours or cycles of utilization or on calendar time, depending upon the component, and are required to be made monthly in arrears or at the end of the lease term. Whether to permit a lessee to make maintenance payments at the end of the lease term, rather than requiring such payments to be made monthly, depends on a variety of factors, including the creditworthiness of the lessee, the level of security deposit which may be provided by the lessee and market conditions at the time. If a lessee is making monthly maintenance payments, we would typically be obligated to use the funds paid by the lessee during the lease term to reimburse the lessee for costs they incur for heavy maintenance, overhaul or replacement of certain high-value components, usually shortly following completion of the relevant work. In addition, many of our leases contain provisions which may require us to pay a portion of such costs in excess of the amounts paid to us by the lessee on a monthly basis, although the timing of the maintenance, overhaul or replacement of the relevant components and the actual cost of the work will determine the portion of the excess, if any, we must pay. As part of our due diligence review of each aircraft we purchase, we prepare an estimate of the expected maintenance payments and any excess costs which may become payable by us, taking into consideration the then-current maintenance status of the aircraft and the relevant provisions of any existing lease. If our estimates prove to be incorrect, or if the lessee is unable to make maintenance payments that come due, our costs associated with maintenance of the aircraft might increase, thereby adversely affecting our net income and cash flow.
Many of our leases also contain provisions requiring us to pay a portion of the cost of modifications to the aircraft performed by the lessee at its expense, if such modifications are mandated by recognized airworthiness authorities. Typically, these provisions would set a threshold, below which the lessee would not have a right to seek reimbursement and above which we may be required to pay a portion of the cost incurred by the lessee. The lessees are obliged to remove liens on the aircraft other than liens permitted under the leases.
Our leases generally provide that the lessees’ payment obligations are absolute and unconditional under any and all circumstances and require lessees to make payments without withholding payment on account of any amounts the lessor may owe the lessee or any claims the lessee may have against the lessor for any reason, except that under certain of the leases a breach of quiet enjoyment by the lessor may permit a lessee to withhold payment. The leases also generally include an obligation of the lessee to gross up payments under the lease where lease payments are subject to withholdings and other taxes, although there may be some limitations to the gross up obligation, including provisions which do not require a lessee to gross up payments if the withholdings arise out of our ownership or tax structure. In addition, changes in law may result in the imposition of withholding and other taxes and charges that are not reimbursable by the lessee under the lease or that cannot be so reimbursed under applicable law. Lessees may fail to reimburse us even when obligated under the lease to do so. Our leases also generally require the lessee to indemnify the lessor for tax liabilities relating to the leases and the aircraft including, in most cases, value added tax and stamp duties, but excluding income tax or its equivalent imposed on the lessor. Our leases require the lessees to pay interest on any overdue amounts.
Our objective is to build and maintain an operating lease portfolio which is balanced and diversified and delivers returns commensurate with risk. We have portfolio concentration objectives to assist in portfolio risk management and highlight areas where action to mitigate risk may be appropriate, and take into account the following:
|•||individual lessee exposures;|
|•||average portfolio credit quality;|
|•||end market (i.e., passenger and freighter) concentrations;|
|•||lease maturity concentrations; and|
|•||aircraft type concentrations.|
We have a risk management team which undertakes detailed credit due diligence on lessees when aircraft are being acquired with a lease already in place and for placement of aircraft with new lessees following lease expiry or termination.
Lease Management and Remarketing
Our aircraft re-leasing strategy is to develop opportunities proactively, well in advance of scheduled lease expiration, to enable consideration of a broad set of alternatives, including both passenger and freighter deployments, and to allow for reconfiguration or maintenance lead times where needed. We have invested significant resources in developing and implementing what we consider to be a state-of-the-art lease management information system to enable efficient management of aircraft in our portfolio.
We executed or extended thirteen leases on owned aircraft with scheduled lease expirations in 2007. Overall, these renewals or new leases have a weighted average lease term of 4.9 years at monthly lease rates that are 18% higher than the previous rentals.
Since June 2007, we have purchased three off-lease Boeing 747-400 aircraft. In June 2007, we also entered in a passenger to freighter conversion agreement for these aircraft. The first two aircraft were purchased in June and August and placed on short-term interim leases until their scheduled freighter conversion processes begin during the second and fourth quarters of 2008, respectively. We purchased the third aircraft during the fourth quarter of 2007, and it is now undergoing freighter conversion. We have executed long-term, post-conversion leases for two of these aircraft, and are actively marketing the third aircraft for lease upon completion of the freighter conversion process, currently scheduled for February 2009.
In addition to the three Boeing 747-400 aircraft noted above, during 2007, we acquired eight aircraft that were off-lease at the time of purchase and subsequently executed leases for all of these aircraft with a weighted average lease term of 5.7 years.
For 2008, we have commitments to acquire four aircraft that were not subject to leases when we entered into the GAIF Acquisition Agreement. We also own one debt instrument that is secured by an aircraft. The borrower has elected not to repay the debt at maturity and, accordingly, we expect that in satisfaction of this debt instrument we will take ownership of this additional aircraft during the first quarter of 2008. We executed leases in 2007 for all five of these aircraft.
We had 17 owned aircraft with leases originally scheduled to expire in 2008 and, as of February 21, 2008, we had executed leases or renewals, or commitments to lease or renew, with respect to 14 of these aircraft and we are actively marketing one aircraft. We estimate that for these 15 aircraft, the weighted average lease term for the new leases or renewals will be more than six years with monthly lease rates that will be approximately 10% higher than the previous rentals. The remaining two aircraft with lease expiration dates in 2008 are committed for sale upon return from the existing lessee. For the 20 owned aircraft originally having lease expiries in 2009, we have executed lease renewals on three aircraft and are actively marketing the remaining aircraft.
We also invest in debt investments secured by commercial jet aircraft, including enhanced equipment trust certificates and other forms of collateralized debt. We believe our experience in the aircraft leasing business, coupled with our knowledge of structured finance, enables us to make opportunistic investments in this market.
We believe our debt investments complement our aircraft leasing business. Through our aircraft leasing business, we have extensive experience with the pertinent airline credits and valuation of underlying aviation collateral. By leveraging this knowledge and experience, we believe we are able to earn attractive risk-adjusted returns.
As of December 31, 2007, our debt investment portfolio had a fair value of $113.0 million and consisted of seven debt investments. A majority of the opportunities available in this segment presently entail U.S. airline obligors. Consistent with our overall investment approach, we consider return thresholds for investments in secured debt on a risk-adjusted basis. In February 2008, we sold two of our debt investments for $65.3 million, plus accrued interest. We repaid the outstanding balance of $52.3 million, plus accrued interest, under the related repurchase agreement. Additionally, we terminated the related interest rate swap and paid breakage fees and accrued interest of approximately $1.0 million.
Consistent with our strategy in our aircraft leasing business, we generally invest in secured debt with a long-term holding horizon. Among other factors, we periodically monitor the investment value, collateral coverage and credit standing of the relevant obligors. As part of our portfolio management approach, we will consider liquidating or reducing our exposure to specific securities to the extent collateral coverage, credit profile or other factors deteriorate.
We utilize a deal team approach to pursue secured debt transactions, wherein functional experts such as technical, credit and legal personnel support our analytics valuation and finance functions in order to make investments consistent with our portfolio management strategy. At the current time, funding for our secured debt investments is undertaken on a transaction-specific basis.
Other Aviation Assets and Alternative Investment Approaches
As of December 31, 2007, our overall portfolio of assets includes commercial jet aircraft and asset-backed debt securities; however, we believe that acquisition opportunities may arise in such sectors as jet engine and spare parts leasing and financing, aviation facility financing or ownership, and commercial turboprop aircraft and helicopter leasing and financing. In the future, we may make opportunistic investments in these sectors or in other aviation related assets and we intend to continue to explore other income-generating activities and investments that leverage our experience and contacts.
The aircraft leasing industry is highly competitive and may be divided into three basic activities: (i) aircraft acquisition, (ii) leasing or re-leasing of aircraft, and (iii) aircraft sales. Competition varies among these three basic activities. Our investments to date have consisted largely of used aircraft and have been sourced primarily in the secondary market, with many of our acquisitions being for one or two aircraft at a time. We believe that only a few comparably sized leasing companies focus primarily on the same segment of the aircraft acquisition market as we do. Currently, our competition for aircraft acquisitions includes airlines as well as aircraft leasing companies, including CIT Group, AerCap, Macquarie Aircraft Leasing, AWAS and Babcock & Brown. Competition for new aircraft acquisitions includes these leasing companies as well as IFLC and GECAS.
Competition for leasing or re-leasing of aircraft as well as aircraft sales generally entails a broader number of market participants. In addition to those companies listed above, a number of other aircraft manufacturers, airlines and other operators, distributors, equipment managers, leasing companies, financial institutions, and other parties engaged in leasing, managing, marketing or remarketing
aircraft compete with us, although their focus may be on different market segments and aircraft types. Competition in aircraft leasing and sales is based principally upon the availability, type and condition of aircraft, lease rates, prices and other lease terms.
Some of our competitors have, or may, obtain greater financial resources than us and may have a lower cost of capital. However, we believe that we are able to compete favorably in aircraft acquisition, leasing and sales activities due to the reputation and experience of our management, our extensive market contacts, our expertise in sourcing and acquiring aircraft and our flexibility in structuring lease terms to respond to market dynamics and customer needs.
We operate in a capital intensive, rather than a labor intensive, business. As of December 31, 2007, we had 69 employees. Management and administrative personnel will expand, as necessary, to meet our future growth needs. None of our employees are covered by a collective bargaining agreement and we believe that we maintain excellent employee relations. We provide certain employee benefits, including retirement, health, life, disability and accident insurance plans.
We require our lessees to carry with insurers in the international insurance markets the types of insurance which are customary in the air transportation industry, including airline general third party legal liability insurance, all-risk aircraft hull insurance (both with respect to the aircraft and with respect to each engine when not installed on our aircraft) and war-risk hull and legal liability insurance. We are named as an additional insured on liability insurance policies carried by our lessees, and we or one of our lenders would typically be designated as a loss payee in the event of a total loss of the aircraft. Coverage under liability policies generally is not subject to deductibles except those as to baggage and cargo that are standard in the airline industry, and coverage under all-risk aircraft hull insurance policies generally is subject to agreed deductible levels. We maintain contingent hull and liability insurance coverage with respect to our aircraft which is intended to provide coverage for certain risks, including the risk of cancellation of the hull or liability insurance maintained by any of our lessees without notice to us.
We maintain insurance policies to cover risks related to physical damage to our equipment and property (other than aircraft), as well as with respect to third-party liabilities arising through the course of our normal business operations (other than aircraft operations). We also maintain limited business interruption insurance and directors’ and officers’ insurance providing indemnification for our directors, officers and certain employees for certain liabilities.
Consistent with industry practice, our insurance policies are subject to deductibles or self-retention amounts.
We believe that the insurance coverage currently carried by our lessees and by Aircastle provides adequate protection against the accident-related and other covered risks involved in the conduct of our business. However, there can be no assurance that we have adequately insured against all risks, that lessees will at all times comply with their obligations to maintain insurance, that any particular claim will ultimately be paid or that we will be able to procure adequate insurance coverage at commercially reasonable rates in the future.
The air transportation industry is highly regulated; however, we generally are not directly subject to most of these regulations because we do not operate aircraft. In contrast, our lessees are subject to extensive, direct regulation under the laws of the jurisdiction in which they are registered and under which they operate. Such laws govern, among other things, the registration, operation and maintenance of our aircraft. Most of our aircraft are registered in the jurisdiction in which the lessee of the aircraft is certified as an air operator. As a result, our aircraft are subject to the airworthiness and other standards imposed by such jurisdictions. Laws affecting the airworthiness of aircraft
generally are designed to ensure that all aircraft and related equipment are continuously maintained under a program that will enable safe operation of the aircraft. Most countries’ aviation laws require aircraft to be maintained under an approved maintenance program having defined procedures and intervals for inspection, maintenance, and repair.
Our lessees are sometimes obliged to obtain governmental approval to import and lease our aircraft, to operate our aircraft on certain routes and to pay us in U.S. dollars. Usually these approvals are obtained prior to lease commencement as a condition to our delivery of the aircraft. Governmental leave to deregister and/or re-export an aircraft at lease expiry or termination may also be required and may not be available in advance of the lease expiration or termination, although we would normally in such a case require powers of attorney or other documentation to assist us in effecting deregistration or export if required.
Inflation generally affects our costs, including SG&A expenses and other expenses. Inflation also will increase the price of the airframes and engines we purchase under the Airbus A330F Agreement, although we have agreed with the manufacturers to certain limitations on price escalation in order to reduce our exposure to inflation. Our contractual commitments described elsewhere in this report include estimates we have made concerning the impact of inflation on our acquisition cost under the Airbus A330F Agreement. We do not believe that our financial results have been, or will be, adversely affected by inflation in a material way.
In February 2008, we sold two of our debt investments for $65.3 million, plus accrued interest. We repaid the outstanding balance of $52.3 million, plus accrued interest, under the related repurchase agreement. Additionally, we terminated the related interest rate swap and paid breakage fees and accrued interest of approximately $1.0 million.
On February 5, 2008, we entered into a senior secured credit agreement with two banks, which we refer to as the 2008-A Credit Agreement. The 2008-A Credit Agreement provides for loans in an aggregate amount of up to $300.0 million, with borrowings under this credit facility being used to finance a portion of the purchase price of certain aircraft.
Loans under the 2008-A Credit Agreement mature on August 4, 2008 or, if the borrower exercises its extension option, which we refer to as the Extension Option, then the maturity date will be February 3, 2009. We refer to the period from August 4, 2008 to February 3, 2009 as the Extension Period. In addition, the 2008-A Credit Agreement provides for an accelerated maturity date which would occur on the date falling 180 days after the initial closing of a future long-term debt financing by Aircastle or one if its subsidiaries of $300.0 million or more (in a single transaction or series of related transactions).
We expect that interest on loans under the 2008-A Credit Agreement will generally be based on the one-month LIBOR rate plus an applicable margin. The applicable margin for LIBOR-based borrowings is 1.50% per annum, increasing to 2.50% per annum during the Extension Period. Additionally, we are subject to a 0.25% per annum fee, increasing to 0.375% per annum during the Extension Period, on any unused portion of the total committed facility.
Fair Value of Derivatives and Margin Calls
As of February 21, 2008, the aggregate fair value of our interest rate swaps and our interest rate forward contracts was a liability of $216.5 million and we had pledged $53.9 million in cash collateral, or margin calls, required under certain of our interest rate swaps and our interest rate forward contracts.
ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS
Risks Related to Our Business
Risks related to our operations
We have limited operating history and we are therefore subject to the risks generally associated with the formation of any new business.
We were incorporated in October 2004, prior to which we had no operations or assets. We are therefore subject to the risks generally associated with the formation of any new business, including the risk that we will not be able to implement our business strategies. Because of our limited operating history, it may be difficult for investors to assess the quality of our management team and our results of operations, and our financial performance to date may not be indicative of our long-term future performance. Furthermore, because our annual historical financial statements are available for only 2005, 2006 and 2007, investors may find it more difficult to evaluate our performance and assess our future prospects than they may otherwise were such information available for a longer period of time. In addition, over our brief history we have incurred a net loss of approximately $1.5 million for the period from October 29, 2004 through December 31, 2004, net income of approximately $0.2 million for the year ended December 31, 2005, and while we have recorded net income in each quarter thereafter, we may not be able to maintain and/or increase profitability in the future. In addition, although we have grown substantially since our inception, there can be no assurance that we will be able to continue to effectively integrate acquired aircraft, including significant acquisitions such as the acquisitions of the New A330F Aircraft.
We have significant customer concentration and defaults by one or more of our major customers could have a material adverse effect on our cash flow and earnings and our ability to meet our debt obligations and pay dividends on our common shares.
Lease rental revenue for the year ended December 31, 2007 from our two largest customers, US Airways, Inc. and Sterling Airlines A/S, accounted for 19% of our total revenue. The lease rental revenue as a percent of our total revenue, for these two customers for that period was approximately 12% and 7%, respectively. These customers operate under 15 operating lease agreements that have terms ranging from approximately six months to seven years. In addition, US Airways, Inc. reorganized under Chapter 11 in August 2002 and exited bankruptcy in March 2003. US Airways, Inc. again reorganized in September 2004 and, in September 2005, exited bankruptcy and merged with America West Airlines. The loss of one or more of these customers or their inability to make operating lease payments due to financial difficulties, bankruptcy or otherwise could have a material adverse effect on our cash flow and earnings and our ability to meet our debt obligations and pay dividends on our common shares.
Under our current business model, we will need additional capital to finance our growth, and we may not be able to obtain it on terms acceptable to us, or at all, which may limit our ability to grow and compete in the aviation market.
Continued expansion of our business through the acquisition of additional aircraft and other aviation assets will require additional capital, particularly if we were to accelerate our acquisition plans. Financing may not be available to us or may be available to us only on terms that are not favorable. Furthermore, Amended Credit Facility No. 2 may be used to finance only 65% of the purchase price of the aircraft financed with proceeds from the facility. In addition, the terms of certain of our outstanding indebtedness restrict, among other things, our ability to incur additional debt. Amended Credit Facility No. 2 and the Revolving Credit Facility mature, and must be renewed, extended or repaid on or before December 15, 2008, and June 15, 2008, respectively. In addition, subject to certain limited exceptions, each prohibit us from incurring additional recourse debt or guaranteeing the indebtedness of our subsidiaries. We also have repurchase obligations, which we use to finance our debt investments, with expiration dates in 2008, requiring renewal, roll-over or replacement. If we are unable to renew or extend our credit facilities and repurchase obligations and
to raise additional funds or obtain capital on terms acceptable to us, we may have to delay, modify or abandon some or all of our growth strategies and we may not be able to carry out our aircraft acquisition commitments, including the Airbus A330F Agreement. These risks may be increased by the terms of the Airbus A330F Agreement, which requires significant progress payment commitments during the manufacturing process and which extends our future aircraft acquisition commitments into 2011. Further, if additional capital is raised through the issuance of additional equity securities, the interests of our then current common shareholders would be diluted. Newly issued equity securities may have rights, preferences or privileges senior to those of our common shares.
We may not be able to issue aircraft lease-backed securities or to obtain other long-term debt financing on attractive terms, which may require us to seek more costly or dilutive financing for our investments or to liquidate assets.
We intend to continue to finance our aircraft portfolio on a long-term basis through the aircraft securitization market or using other long-term debt structures. We primarily use short-term credit facilities to finance the acquisition of aircraft until we accumulate a sufficient quantity, quality and diversity of aircraft, at which time we intend to refinance these facilities through long-term debt financing. As a result, we are subject to the risk that we will not be able to acquire, during the period that our credit facilities are available, a sufficient amount of eligible aircraft to maximize the efficiency of a long-term debt financing. We also may not be able to obtain additional credit facilities or may not be able to renew or refinance any of our existing credit facilities should we need more time to acquire the aircraft necessary for a long-term debt financing. In addition, we anticipate refinancing our securitization transactions within five years of closing each such transaction. The inability to renew or refinance our credit facilities may require us to seek more costly or dilutive financing for our aircraft or to liquidate assets. In addition, conditions in the capital markets or bank debt market may make the issuance of aircraft lease-backed securities or other long-term debt financing more costly or otherwise less attractive to us when we do have a sufficient pool of aircraft or during the period of time when we anticipate refinancing a portfolio. We also may not be able to structure any future securitizations or other long-term debt financings to allow for distributions of excess cash flows to us at the same levels, or at all. If we are unable to finance these assets on a long-term basis on terms similar to our existing securitizations, we may be required to seek other forms of more costly, dilutive or otherwise less attractive financing or otherwise to liquidate the assets.
An increase in our borrowing costs may adversely affect our earnings and cash available for distribution to our shareholders; a decrease in interest rates may result in margin calls and losses on hedging contracts and cash available for distribution to our shareholders.
We enter into repurchase agreements to finance a portion of the purchase price of our debt investments. Our repurchase agreements typically have terms to maturity with expiration dates in 2008, requiring renewal, roll-over or replacement. Further, we utilize credit facilities to finance a portion of the purchase price of our aircraft. Our credit facilities have maturity dates ranging from April 15, 2008, in the case of the 747 PDP Credit Facility, to December 15, 2008, in the case of Amended Credit Facility No. 2. As our repurchase agreements and credit facilities mature, we will be required to either refinance these instruments by entering into new repurchase agreements or credit facilities, which could result in higher borrowing costs, or repay them by using cash on hand or cash from the sale of our assets.
Our repurchase agreements and credit facilities are primarily London Interbank Offered Rate, or LIBOR, based floating-rate obligations and the interest expense we incur will vary with changes in the applicable LIBOR reference rate. As a result, to the extent we are not sufficiently hedged, changes in interest rates may increase our interest costs and may reduce the spread between the returns on our portfolio investments and the cost of our borrowings. An increase in interest rates would adversely affect the market value of our debt investments that are fixed-rate and/or subject them to prepayment or extension risk, which may adversely affect our earnings and cash available for distribution to our shareholders. A decrease in interest rates may result in margin calls under certain of our hedging contracts, which allow our hedging counterparty to require us to pledge cash collateral to secure a loss in value of such contracts resulting from a decrease in interest rates below levels prevailing when we
entered into such contracts. We also may suffer economic loss if we terminate any such contracts before they mature in connection with a refinancing of our short-term credit facilities, or otherwise.
As of December 31, 2007, if interest rates were to increase by 100 basis points, we would expect to incur an increase in interest expense on our repurchase agreements of approximately $0.2 million on an annualized basis, net of amounts received from our interest rate hedges. Also, as of December 31, 2007, if interest rates were to increase by 100 basis points, we would expect the annual interest expense on our credit facilities to decrease by approximately $0.6 million on an annualized basis, net of amounts received from our interest rate hedges. As of December 31, 2007, we had pledged $35.9 million to satisfy margin calls under our hedging contracts, and if interest rates were to decrease by one basis point, we would expect to be required to pledge an additional approximately $0.9 million to satisfy margin calls under our interest rate hedging arrangements. As of February 21, 2008, the aggregate fair value of our interest rate swaps and our interest rate forward contracts was a liability of $216.5 million and we had pledged $53.9 million in cash collateral required under certain of our interest rate swaps and our interest rate forward contracts.
Departure of key officers could harm our business and financial results.
Our senior management’s reputations and relationships with lessees and sellers of aircraft are a critical element of our business. We encounter intense competition for qualified employees from other companies in the aircraft leasing industry, and we believe there are only a limited number of available qualified executives in our industry. Our future success depends, to a significant extent, upon the continued service of our senior management personnel, particularly: Ron Wainshal, our Chief Executive Officer; Michael Inglese, our Chief Financial Officer; and David Walton, our Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel, each of whose services are critical to the successful implementation of our growth strategies. These key officers have been with us as we have substantially grown our operations and as a result have been critical to our development. If we were to lose the services of any of these individuals, our business and financial results could be adversely affected.
We may not be able to pay or maintain dividends and the failure to do so would adversely affect our share price.
On December 11, 2007, our board of directors declared a regular quarterly dividend of $0.70 per common share, or an aggregate of approximately $55.0 million, which was paid on January 15, 2008 to holders of record on December 31, 2007. These dividends may not be indicative of the amount of any future dividends. We intend to continue to pay regular quarterly dividends to our shareholders; however, our ability to pay, maintain or increase cash dividends to our shareholders and to execute our dividend payment strategy is subject to the discretion of our board of directors and will depend on many factors, including our ability to make and finance acquisitions, our ability to renew or replace expiring credit facilities and repurchase obligations, our ability to negotiate favorable lease and other contractual terms, the level of demand for our aircraft, the economic condition of the commercial aviation industry generally, the financial condition and liquidity of our lessees, the lease rates we are able to charge and realize, our leasing costs, unexpected or increased expenses, the level and timing of capital expenditures, margin calls under our hedging contracts, principal repayments and other capital needs, the value of our aircraft portfolio, our results of operations, financial condition and liquidity, general business conditions, restrictions imposed by our securitizations or other financing arrangements (including our credit facilities), legal restrictions on the payment of dividends and other factors that our board of directors deems relevant. Some of these factors are beyond our control and a change in any such factor could affect our ability to pay dividends on our common shares. In the future we may not be able to pay dividends, maintain our current level of dividends, or increase them over time. Increases in demand for our aircraft and operating lease payments may not occur, and may not increase our actual cash available for dividends to our common shareholders. The failure to maintain or pay dividends would adversely affect our share price.
We are subject to risks related to our indebtedness that may limit our operational flexibility, our ability to compete with our competitors and our ability to pay dividends on our common shares.
General Risks. Our indebtedness subjects us to certain risks, including:
|•||substantially all of our aircraft leases serve as collateral for our secured indebtedness and the terms of certain of our indebtedness require us to use proceeds from sales of aircraft, in part, to repay amounts outstanding under such indebtedness;|
|•||we may be required to dedicate a substantial portion of our cash flows from operations, if available, to debt service payments, thereby reducing the amount of our cash flow available to pay dividends, fund working capital, make capital expenditures and satisfy other needs;|
|•||our failure to comply with the terms of our indebtedness, including restrictive covenants contained therein, may result in additional interest being due or defaults that could result in the acceleration of the principal, and unpaid interest on, the defaulted debt, as well as the forfeiture of the aircraft pledged as collateral;|
|•||non-compliance with debt service coverage ratios, loan to value ratios, or other financial tests, would limit or eliminate available cash flows from the assets financed under the relevant financing; and|
|•||we are not permitted to pay dividends on our common shares to the extent a default or an event of default exists under the Revolving Credit Facility.|
Risks relating to our Securitizations. The terms of Securitization No. 1 and Securitization No. 2, or the Securitizations, require us to satisfy certain financial covenants, including the maintenance of debt service coverage ratios during years four and five of the agreements. Our compliance with these covenants depends substantially upon the timely receipt of lease payments from our lessees. In particular, during the first five years from issuance, the Securitizations have amortization schedules that requires that lease payments be applied to reduce the outstanding principal balances of the indebtedness of the applicable Securitization so that such balances remain at 54.8% for Securitization No. 1 and 60.6% for Securitization No. 2, respectively, of the assumed future depreciated value of the applicable portfolio. If the debt service coverage ratio requirements are not met on two consecutive monthly payment dates in the fourth and fifth year following the closing dates of the applicable Securitizations and in any month following the fifth anniversary of the closing date, all excess securitization cash flow is required to be used to reduce the principal balance of the indebtedness of the applicable Securitization and will not be available to us for other purposes, including paying dividends to our shareholders.
In addition, under the terms of the Securitizations certain transactions will require the consent or approval of one or more of the securitization trustees, the rating agencies that rated the applicable portfolios certificates and the financial guaranty insurance policy issuers for the applicable Securitization, including (i) sales of aircraft at prices below certain scheduled minimum amounts or, in any calendar year, in amounts in excess of 10% of the portfolio value at the beginning of that year, (ii) the leasing of aircraft to the extent not in compliance with the lessee and geographic concentration limits, and the other operating covenants, pursuant to the terms of the securitization (iii) modifying an aircraft if the cost thereof would exceed certain amounts or (iv) entering into any transaction between us and the applicable Securitization entities not already contemplated in the applicable Securitization. Absent the aforementioned consent, which we may not receive, the lessee and geographic concentration limits under the Securitizations will require us to re-lease the aircraft to a diverse set of customers, and may place limits on our ability to lease the 40 aircraft, which are the security for Securitization No. 1 and the 59 aircraft which are security for Securitization No. 2, to certain customers in certain jurisdictions, even if to do so would provide the best risk-adjusted returns at that time.
Risks relating to our credit facilities. The terms of our credit facilities restrict our ability to:
• create liens on assets;
• incur additional indebtedness;
• sell assets;
• make certain investments or capital expenditures;
• engage in mergers, amalgamations or consolidations;
• engage in certain transactions with affiliates;
• incur secured indebtedness; and
• receive payments or excess cash flows from subsidiaries.
Amended Credit Facility No. 2 requires us to make principal payments to the extent that amounts outstanding under the facility exceed 65% of the purchase price or, in the case of a loan that financed the acquisition of an aircraft that has been outstanding more than twelve months, 65% of 95% of the purchase price, of the aircraft financed with proceeds from the facility. In addition, our Revolving Credit Facility requires us to maintain a minimum consolidated net worth of $750 million plus one-half of the net proceeds of any future equity capital we raise. The restrictions described above may impair our ability to operate and compete with our direct and indirect competitors and to pay dividends on our common shares.
Failure to close the aircraft acquisition commitments could negatively impact our share price and financial results.
At December 31, 2007, we had commitments to acquire a total of 23 aircraft over a period ending in 2011. If we are unable to obtain the necessary financing and if the various conditions to these commitments are not satisfied, we will be unable to close the purchase of some or all of the aircraft which we have commitments to acquire, including the aircraft under the Airbus A330F Agreement. If our aircraft acquisition commitments are not closed for these or other reasons, we will be subject to several risks, including the following:
|•||forfeiting deposits and progress payments and having to pay and expense certain significant costs relating to these commitments, such as liquidated damages or actual damages, and legal, accounting and financial advisory expenses, and will not realize any of the benefits of having the transactions completed; and|
|•||the focus of our management having been spent on these commitments instead of on pursuing other opportunities that could have been beneficial to us, without realizing any or all of the benefits of having the transaction completed.|
These risks could materially and adversely affect our share price and financial results.
Risks Related to Our Aviation Assets
The variability of supply and demand for aircraft could depress lease rates for our aircraft, which would have an adverse effect on our financial results and growth prospects and on our ability to meet our debt obligations and to pay dividends on our common shares.
The aircraft leasing and sales industry has experienced periods of aircraft oversupply and undersupply. The oversupply of a specific type of aircraft in the market is likely to depress aircraft lease rates for and the value of that type of aircraft.
The supply and demand for aircraft is affected by various cyclical and non-cyclical factors that are not under our control, including:
|•||passenger and air cargo demand;|
|•||fuel costs and general economic conditions affecting our lessees’ operations;|
|•||geopolitical events, including war, prolonged armed conflict and acts of terrorism;|
|•||outbreaks of communicable diseases and natural disasters;|
|•||foreign exchange rates;|
|•||airline restructurings and bankruptcies;|
|•||the availability of credit;|
|•||manufacturer production levels and technological innovation;|
|•||retirement and obsolescence of aircraft models;|
|•||manufacturers merging or exiting the industry or ceasing to produce aircraft types;|
|•||reintroduction into service of aircraft previously in storage; and|
|•||airport and air traffic control infrastructure constraints.|
These factors may produce sharp decreases or increases in aircraft values and lease rates, which would impact our cost of acquiring aircraft, and may result in lease defaults and also prevent the aircraft from being re-leased or, if desired, sold on favorable terms. This would have an adverse effect on our financial results and growth prospects and on our ability to meet our debt obligations and to pay dividends on our common shares.
Other factors that increase the risk of decline in aircraft value and lease rates could have an adverse affect on our financial results and growth prospects and on our ability to meet our debt obligations and to pay dividends on our common shares.
In addition to factors linked to the aviation industry generally, other factors that may affect the value and lease rates of our aircraft include:
|•||the particular maintenance and operating history of the airframe and engines;|
|•||the number of operators using that type of aircraft;|
|•||whether the aircraft is subject to a lease and, if so, whether the lease terms are favorable to the lessor;|
|•||any renegotiation of a lease on less favorable terms;|
|•||any regulatory and legal requirements that must be satisfied before the aircraft can be purchased, sold or re-leased; and|
|•||compatibility of our aircraft configurations or specifications with other aircraft owned by operators of that type.|
Any decrease in the values of and lease rates for commercial aircraft which may result from the above factors or other unanticipated factors may have a material adverse effect on our financial results and growth prospects and on our ability to meet our debt obligations and to pay dividends on our common shares.
The concentration of aircraft types in our aircraft portfolio could lead to adverse effects on our business and financial results should any difficulties specific to these particular types of aircraft occur.
Our owned aircraft portfolio is concentrated in certain aircraft types. In addition, we have a significant concentration of freighter aircraft in our portfolio, and in our aircraft acquisition
commitments, and we have growing exposure to risks in the cargo market. Should any of these aircraft types (or other types we acquire in the future) or Airbus or Boeing encounter technical, financial or other difficulties, a diminution in value of such aircraft, an inability to lease the aircraft on favorable terms or at all, or a potential grounding of such aircraft could occur. As a result, the inability to lease the affected aircraft types would likely have an adverse effect on our financial results to the extent the affected aircraft types comprise a significant percentage of our aircraft portfolio. The composition of our aircraft portfolio may therefore adversely affect our business and financial results. In addition, the abandonment or rejection of the lease of any of the aircraft by one or more carriers in reorganization proceedings under Chapters 11 or 7 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code or comparable statutes in non-U.S. jurisdictions may diminish the value of such aircraft and will subject us to re-leasing risks.
The advanced age of some of our aircraft may expose us to higher than anticipated maintenance related expenses, which could adversely affect our financial results and our ability to pursue additional acquisitions.
As of December 31, 2007, based on net book value, 22.6% of our aircraft portfolio was 15 years or older. In general, the costs of operating an aircraft, including maintenance expenditures, increase with the age of the aircraft. Also, older aircraft typically are less fuel-efficient than newer aircraft and may be more difficult to re-lease or sell. Variable expenses like fuel, crew size or aging aircraft corrosion control or modification programs and related airworthiness directives could make the operation of older aircraft less economically feasible and may result in increased lessee defaults. We may also incur some of these increased maintenance expenses and regulatory costs upon acquisition or releasing of our aircraft. In addition, a number of countries have adopted or may adopt age limits on aircraft imports, which may result in greater difficulty placing affected aircraft on lease or re-lease on favorable terms. Any of these expenses, costs or risks will have a negative impact on our financial results and our ability to pursue additional acquisitions.
The New A330F Aircraft to be purchased under the Airbus A330F Agreement represent a new cargo variant of a passenger model and there is currently no well developed market for this aircraft model.
Under the Airbus A330F Agreement, we have committed to acquire fifteen New A330F Aircraft with deliveries scheduled for 2010 and 2011. While the Airbus A330 family is a successful passenger configuration aircraft, there is no assurance that a robust market will develop for the A330-200F model. If such a market fails to develop, or fails to develop sufficiently in advance of our delivery positions, we may not be able to lease the New A330F Aircraft at attractive lease rates or on favorable terms, which may adversely affect our financial condition and results of operation.
The failure of aircraft or engine manufacturers to meet their delivery commitments to us could adversely affect us.
Our ability to obtain our anticipated benefits under the Airbus A330F Agreement will depend in part on the performance of Airbus and the engine manufacturers we selected in meeting their obligations to us with respect to the timing of the deliveries, and the capabilities of the New A330F Aircraft. In 2006 and early 2007, Airbus made a series of announcements relating to production delays and cost overruns relating to the development of the new A380 model, and delays and redesign efforts relating to the development of the new A350-XWB. Airbus has also announced several changes in its senior management and a planned reduction in its workforce of 10,000. In addition, Airbus will reportedly experience delays in other programs and has generally experienced other economic difficulties. A failure by Airbus to produce the New A330F Aircraft, or a failure on the part of Airbus or an engine manufacturer to meet delivery commitments with respect to the New A330F Aircraft, could adversely affect our ability to deliver the New A330F Aircraft to our customers and adversely affect our financial condition and results of operation.
We operate in a highly competitive market for investment opportunities in aviation assets and for the leasing of aircraft.
A number of entities compete with us to make the types of investments that we plan to make. We compete with public partnerships, investors and funds, commercial and investment banks and
commercial finance companies with respect to our investments in debt investments. We compete with other operating lessors, airlines, aircraft manufacturers, financial institutions (including those seeking to dispose of repossessed aircraft at distressed prices), aircraft brokers and other investors with respect to aircraft acquisitions and aircraft leasing. The aircraft leasing industry is highly competitive and may be divided into three basic activities: (i) aircraft acquisition, (ii) leasing or re-leasing of aircraft, and (iii) aircraft sales. Competition varies among these three basic activities. Currently, we compete primarily in the first two activities, and our competition is comprised of aircraft leasing companies, including GE Commercial Aviation Services, International Lease Finance Corp., CIT Group, AerCap, Aviation Capital Group, Macquarie Aircraft Leasing, RBS Aviation Capital, AWAS, Babcock & Brown and BOC Aviation (formerly Singapore Aircraft Leasing Enterprise) and airlines.
Several of our competitors are substantially larger and have considerably greater financial, technical and marketing resources than we do. Some competitors may have a lower cost of funds and access to funding sources that are not available to us. In addition, some of our competitors may have higher risk tolerances or different risk assessments, which could allow them to consider a wider variety of investments, establish more relationships than us, and bid more aggressively on aviation assets available for sale and offer lower lease rates than us. For instance, we may not be able to grant privileged rental rates to airlines in return for equity investments or debt financings in order to lease aircraft and minimize the number of aircraft off lease (unless such equity investments or debt financings are in connection with the bankruptcy, reorganization or similar process of a lessee in settlement of expected or already delinquent obligations, as permitted under the terms of certain of our credit facilities). Certain of our competitors, however, may enter into similar arrangements with troubled lessees to restructure the obligations of those lessees while maximizing the number of aircraft remaining on viable leases to such lessees and minimizing their overall cost. Such disparity could make our acquisitions more costly, and impair our ability to effectively compete in the marketplace, maximize our revenues and grow our business. In addition, some competitors may provide financial services, maintenance services or other inducements to potential lessees that we cannot provide. As a result of competitive pressures, we may not be able to take advantage of attractive investment opportunities from time to time, and we may not be able to identify and make investments that are consistent with our investment objectives. Additionally, we may not be able to compete effectively against present and future competitors in the aircraft leasing market. The competitive pressures we face may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We may not realize gains or income from our debt investments.
We seek to generate both current income and capital appreciation on our debt investments. The debt investments in which we invest may not appreciate in value, and, in fact, may decline in value and default on interest and/or principal payments. As of December 31, 2007, the obligors under our debt investments are predominantly U.S. airlines. During the past five years a number of North American passenger airlines filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings and several U.S. airlines ceased operations altogether.
As in Europe, North America has experienced the development of low-cost carriers and the resultant increased competition among such carriers and between such carriers and traditional carriers. This evolution in the North American airline industry may have a material adverse effect on the ability of North American lessees to meet their financial and other obligations including obligations under our leases. Accordingly, we may not be able to realize gains or income from our debt investments. Any gains that we do realize may not be sufficient to offset any other losses we experience. Any income that we realize may not be sufficient to offset our expenses.
Declines in the market values of our debt investments may adversely affect periodic reported results and credit availability, which may reduce earnings and, in turn, cash available for distribution to our shareholders.
Our debt investments are either classified for accounting purposes as available-for-sale or held-to-maturity. Changes in the market values of those assets will be directly charged or credited to shareholders’ equity. As a result, a decline in values may reduce the book value of our assets.
Moreover, if the decline in value of an available for sale security is considered by our management to be other than temporary, such decline will reduce our earnings.
A decline in the market value of our debt investments may adversely affect us, particularly in instances where we have borrowed money based on the market value of those debt investments. If the market value of those assets declines, the lender may require us to post additional collateral to support the loan. If we were unable to post the additional collateral, we would have to sell those assets or other assets at a time when we might not otherwise choose to do so. A reduction in available credit may reduce our earnings and, in turn, cash available for distribution to shareholders.
Market values of our debt investments may decline for a number of reasons, such as causes related to changes in prevailing market rates, increases in defaults, increases in voluntary prepayments for any debt investments that we have that are subject to prepayment risk and widening of credit spreads.
Risks related to our leases
We generally will need to re-lease or sell aircraft as current leases expire to continue to generate sufficient funds to meet our debt obligations, to finance our growth and operations and to pay dividends on our common shares, and we may not be able to re-lease or sell such aircraft on favorable terms, or at all.
Our business strategy entails the need to re-lease aircraft as our current leases expire in order to continue to generate sufficient revenues to meet our debt obligations, to finance our growth and operations and to pay dividends on our common shares. In certain cases, including the New A330F Aircraft, we have committed to purchase aircraft that are not subject to lease. The ability to lease or re-lease aircraft at attractive rates will depend on general market and competitive conditions at the particular time. If we are not able to lease or re-lease an aircraft at favorable rates, including aircraft acquired pursuant to the Airbus A330F Agreement, we may need to attempt to sell the aircraft to provide adequate funds for debt payments and to otherwise finance our growth and operations. Further, our ability to re-lease, lease or sell aircraft on favorable terms or at all or without significant off-lease time and transition costs is likely to be adversely impacted by risks affecting the airline industry.
If lessees are unable to fund their maintenance requirements on our aircraft, our cash flow and our ability to meet our debt obligations or to pay dividends on our common shares could be adversely affected.
The standards of maintenance observed by the various lessees and the condition of the aircraft at the time of sale or lease may affect the future values and rental rates for our aircraft.
Under our leases, the relevant lessee is generally responsible for maintaining the aircraft and complying with all governmental requirements applicable to the lessee and the aircraft, including, without limitation, operational, maintenance, and registration requirements and airworthiness directives (although in certain cases we have agreed to share the cost of complying with certain airworthiness directives). Failure of a lessee to perform required maintenance with respect to an aircraft during the term of a lease could result in a diminution in value of such aircraft, an inability to lease the aircraft at favorable rates or at all, or a potential grounding of such aircraft, and will likely require us to incur maintenance and modification costs upon the expiration or earlier termination of the applicable lease, which could be substantial, to restore such aircraft to an acceptable condition prior to sale or re-leasing.
Certain of our leases provide that the lessee is required to make periodic payments to us during the lease term in order to provide cash reserves for the payment of maintenance tied to the usage of the aircraft. In these leases there is an associated liability for us to reimburse the lessee for such scheduled maintenance performed on the related aircraft, based on formulas tied to the extent of any of the lessee’s maintenance reserve payments. In some cases, we are obligated, and in the future may incur additional obligations pursuant to the terms of the leases, to contribute to the cost of maintenance work performed by the lessee in addition to maintenance reserve payments.
Our operational cash flow and available liquidity may not be sufficient to fund our maintenance requirements, particularly as our aircraft age. Actual rental and maintenance payments by lessees and
other cash that we receive may be significantly less than projected as a result of numerous factors, including defaults by lessees and our potential inability to obtain satisfactory maintenance terms in leases. Certain of our leases do not provide for any periodic maintenance reserve payments to be made by lessees to us in respect of their maintenance obligations, and it is possible that future leases will not contain such requirements. Typically, these lessees are required to make payments at the end of the lease term.
Even if we are entitled to maintenance payments, they may not cover the entire expense of the scheduled maintenance they are intended to fund. In addition, maintenance payments typically cover only certain scheduled maintenance requirements and do not cover all required maintenance and all scheduled maintenance. Furthermore, lessees may not meet their maintenance payment obligations or perform required scheduled maintenance. Any significant variations in such factors may materially adversely affect our business and particularly our cash position, which would make it difficult for us to meet our debt obligations or to pay dividends on our common shares.
Failure to pay certain potential additional operating costs could result in the grounding or arrest of our aircraft and prevent the re-lease, sale or other use of our aircraft, which would negatively affect our financial condition and results of operations.
As in the case of maintenance costs, we may incur other operational costs upon a lessee default or where the terms of the lease require us to pay a portion of those costs. Such costs include:
|•||the costs of casualty, liability and political risk insurance and the liability costs or losses when insurance coverage has not been or cannot be obtained as required, or is insufficient in amount or scope;|
|•||the costs of licensing, exporting or importing an aircraft, airport taxes, customs duties, air navigation charges, landing fees and similar governmental or quasi-governmental impositions, which can be substantial; and|
|•||penalties and costs associated with the failure of lessees to keep the aircraft registered under all appropriate local requirements or obtain required governmental licenses, consents and approvals.|
The failure to pay certain of these costs can result in liens on the aircraft and the failure to register the aircraft can result in a loss of insurance. These matters could result in the grounding or arrest of the aircraft and prevent the re-lease, sale or other use of the aircraft until the problem is cured, which would negatively affect our financial condition and results of operations.
Our lessees may have inadequate insurance coverage or fail to fulfill their respective indemnity obligations, which could result in us not being covered for claims asserted against us and may negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
While we do not directly control the operation of any of our aircraft, by virtue of holding title to the aircraft (directly or through a securitization-related special purpose entity), in certain jurisdictions around the world, aircraft lessors are held strictly liable for losses resulting from the operation of aircraft or may be held liable for those losses on other legal theories.
The lessees are required under our leases to indemnify us for, and insure against, liabilities arising out of the use and operation of the aircraft, including third-party claims for death or injury to persons and damage to property for which we may be deemed liable. Lessees are also required to maintain public liability, property damage and hull all risks and hull war risks insurance on the aircraft at agreed upon levels. However, they are not generally required to maintain political risk insurance. The hull insurance is typically subject to standard market hull deductibles based on aircraft type that generally range from $0.25 million to $1.0 million. These deductibles may be higher in some leases, and lessees usually have fleet-wide deductibles for liability insurance and occurrence or fleet limits on war risk insurance. Any hull insurance proceeds in respect of such claims shall be paid first to us as lessor in the event of loss of the aircraft or, in the absence of an event of loss of the aircraft, to the lessee to effect repairs or, in the case of liability insurance, for indemnification of third-party liabilities.
Subject to the terms of the applicable lease, the balance of any hull insurance proceeds after deduction for all amounts due and payable by the lessee to the lessor under such lease must be paid to the lessee.
Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, aviation insurers significantly reduced the amount of insurance coverage available to airlines for liability to persons other than employees or passengers for claims resulting from acts of terrorism, war or similar events. At the same time, they significantly increased the premiums for such third-party war risk and terrorism liability insurance and coverage in general. As a result, the amount of such third-party war risk and terrorism liability insurance that is commercially available at any time may be below the amount stipulated in our leases and required by the market in general.
Our lessees’ insurance, including any available governmental supplemental coverage, may not be sufficient to cover all types of claims that may be asserted against us. Any inadequate insurance coverage or default by lessees in fulfilling their indemnification or insurance obligations or the lack of political risk, hull, war or third-party war risk and terrorism liability insurance will reduce the proceeds that would be received by us upon an event of loss under the respective leases or upon a claim under the relevant liability insurance, which could negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Failure to obtain certain required licenses and approvals could negatively affect our ability to re-lease or sell aircraft, which would negatively affect our financial condition and results of operations.
A number of leases require specific licenses, consents or approvals for different aspects of the leases. These include consents from governmental or regulatory authorities for certain payments under the leases and for the import, export or deregistration of the aircraft. Subsequent changes in applicable law or administrative practice may increase such requirements. In addition, a governmental consent, once given, might be withdrawn. Furthermore, consents needed in connection with future re-leasing or sale of an aircraft may not be forthcoming. Any of these events could adversely affect our ability to re-lease or sell aircraft, which would negatively affect our financial condition and results of operations.
Due to the fact that many of our lessees operate in emerging markets, we are indirectly subject to many of the economic and political risks associated with competing in such markets.
Emerging markets are countries which have less developed economies that are vulnerable to economic and political problems, such as significant fluctuations in gross domestic product, interest and currency exchange rates, civil disturbances, government instability, nationalization and expropriation of private assets and the imposition of taxes or other charges by governments. The occurrence of any of these events in markets served by our lessees and the resulting instability may adversely affect our ownership interest in an aircraft or the ability of lessees which operate in these markets to meet their lease obligations and these lessees may be more likely to default than lessees that operate in developed economies. For the year ended December 31, 2007, 30 of our lessees which operated 67 aircraft and generated lease rental revenue representing 44% of our total revenue are domiciled or habitually based in emerging markets.
Risks related to our lessees
Lessee defaults and other credit problems could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We operate as a supplier to airlines and are indirectly impacted by all the risks facing airlines today. Our ability to succeed is dependent upon (i) the financial strength of our lessees, (ii) the ability to diligently and appropriately assess the credit risk of our lessees and (iii) the ability of lessees to perform their contractual obligations to us. The ability of each lessee to perform its obligations under its lease will depend primarily on the lessee’s financial condition and cash flow, which may be affected by factors beyond our control, including:
|•||air cargo rates;|
|•||passenger and air cargo demand;|
|•||geopolitical and other events, including war, acts of terrorism, outbreaks of epidemic diseases and natural disasters;|
|•||operating costs (including the price and availability of jet fuel and labor costs);|
|•||economic conditions, including recession, and currency fluctuations in the countries and regions in which the lessee operates;|
|•||governmental regulation of or affecting the air transportation business; and|
|•||availability of financing.|
As a general matter, airlines with weak capital structures are more likely than well-capitalized airlines to seek operating leases, and, at any point in time, investors should expect a varying number of lessees and sublessees to experience payment difficulties. As a result of their weak financial condition, a large portion of lessees over time may be significantly in arrears in their rental or maintenance payments. Many of our existing lessees are in a weak financial condition and suffer liquidity problems, and this is likely to be the case in the future and with other lessees and sublessees of our aircraft as well. In addition, many of our lessees are exposed to currency risk due to the fact that they earn revenues in their local currencies and certain of their liabilities and expenses are denominated in U.S. dollars, including lease payments to us. Given the size of our aircraft portfolio, we expect that some lessees from time to time, and possibly in the near future, will be slow in making or will fail to make their payments in full under the leases.
We may not correctly assess the credit risk of each lessee or charge risk-adjusted lease rates, and lessees may not be able to continue to perform their financial and other obligations under our leases in the future. A delayed, missed or reduced rental payment from a lessee decreases our revenues and cash flow and may adversely affect our ability to make payments on our indebtedness and to pay dividends on our common shares. While we may experience some level of delinquency under our leases, default levels may increase over time, particularly as our aircraft portfolio ages and if economic conditions deteriorate. A lessee may experience periodic difficulties that are not financial in nature, which could impair its performance of its maintenance obligations under the leases. These difficulties may include the failure to perform under the required aircraft maintenance program in a sufficient manner and labor-management disagreements or disputes.
We will typically not be in possession of any aircraft while the aircraft are on lease to the lessees. Consequently, our ability to determine the condition of the aircraft or whether the lessees are properly maintaining the aircraft will be limited to periodic inspections we perform or that are performed on
our behalf by third-party service providers or aircraft inspectors. A continuous failure by a lessee to meet its maintenance obligations under the relevant lease could:
|•||result in a grounding of the aircraft;|
|•||in the event of a re-lease of the aircraft, cause us to incur costs, which may be substantial, in restoring the aircraft to an acceptable maintenance condition in order to induce a subsequent lessee to lease the aircraft;|
|•||result in us not being able to re-lease the aircraft promptly or result in a lower rental rate or a shorter term lease following repossession of the aircraft; and|
|•||adversely affect the value of the aircraft.|
In the event that a lessee defaults under a lease, any security deposit paid or letter of credit provided by the lessee may not be sufficient to cover the lessee’s outstanding or unpaid lease obligations and required maintenance expenses.
If our lessees encounter financial difficulties and we decide to restructure our leases with those lessees, this would result in less favorable leases and could result in significant reductions in our cash flow and affect our ability to meet our debt obligations and to pay dividends on our common shares.
When a lessee (i) is late in making payments, (ii) fails to make payments in full or in part under the lease or (iii) has otherwise advised us that it will in the future fail to make payments in full or in part under the lease, we may elect to or be required to restructure the lease. Restructuring may involve anything from a simple rescheduling of payments to the termination of a lease without receiving all or any of the past due amounts. If any request for payment restructuring or rescheduling are made and granted, reduced or deferred rental payments may be payable over all or some part of the remaining term of the lease, although the terms of any revised payment schedules may be unfavorable and such payments may not be made. We may be unable to agree upon acceptable terms for any requested restructurings and as a result may be forced to exercise our remedies under those leases. If we, in the exercise of our remedies, repossess the aircraft, we may not be able to re-lease the aircraft promptly at favorable rates, or at all. You should expect that restructurings and/or repossessions with some lessees might occur.
The terms and conditions of possible payment restructurings or reschedulings may result in significant reductions of rental payments, which may adversely affect our cash flows and our ability to meet our debt obligations and to pay dividends on our common shares.
Significant costs resulting from lease defaults could have an adverse effect on our business.
Although we have the right to repossess the aircraft and to exercise other remedies upon a lessee default, repossession of an aircraft after a lessee default would result in us incurring costs in excess of those incurred with respect to an aircraft returned at the end of the lease. Those costs include legal and other expenses of court or other governmental proceedings (including the cost of posting surety bonds or letters of credit necessary to effect repossession of aircraft), particularly if the lessee is contesting the proceedings or is in bankruptcy, to obtain possession and/or de-registration of the aircraft and flight and export permissions. Delays resulting from any of these proceedings would also increase the period of time during which the relevant aircraft is not generating revenue. In addition, we may incur substantial maintenance, refurbishment or repair costs that a defaulting lessee has failed to pay and that are necessary to put the aircraft in suitable condition for re-lease or sale and we may need to pay off liens, taxes and other governmental charges on the aircraft to obtain clear possession and to remarket the aircraft effectively. We may also incur other costs in connection with the physical possession of the aircraft.
We may also suffer other adverse consequences as a result of a lessee default and the related termination of the lease and the repossession of the related aircraft. Our rights upon a lessee default vary significantly depending upon the jurisdiction and the applicable laws, including the need to obtain a court order for repossession of the aircraft and/or consents for de-registration or re-export of the aircraft. When a defaulting lessee is in bankruptcy, protective administration, insolvency or similar
proceedings, additional limitations may apply. Certain jurisdictions will give rights to the trustee in bankruptcy or a similar officer to assume or reject the lease or to assign it to a third party, or will entitle the lessee or another third party to retain possession of the aircraft without paying lease rentals or performing all or some of the obligations under the relevant lease. Certain of our lessees are owned in whole or in part by government-related entities, which could complicate our efforts to repossess our aircraft in that government’s jurisdiction. Accordingly, we may be delayed in, or prevented from, enforcing certain of our rights under a lease and in re-leasing the affected aircraft.
If we repossess an aircraft, we will not necessarily be able to export or de-register and profitably redeploy the aircraft. For instance, where a lessee or other operator flies only domestic routes in the jurisdiction in which the aircraft is registered, repossession may be more difficult, especially if the jurisdiction permits the lessee or the other operator to resist de-registration. Significant costs may also be incurred in retrieving or recreating aircraft records required for registration of the aircraft and obtaining a certificate of airworthiness for the aircraft.
If our lessees fail to appropriately discharge aircraft liens, we might find it necessary to pay such claims, which could have a negative effect on our cash position and our business.
In the normal course of business, liens that secure the payment of airport fees and taxes, custom duties, air navigation charges (including charges imposed by Eurocontrol), landing charges, crew wages, repairer’s charges, salvage or other liens, or Aircraft Liens, are likely, depending on the jurisdiction in question, to attach to the aircraft. The Aircraft Liens may secure substantial sums that may, in certain jurisdictions or for limited types of Aircraft Liens (particularly fleet liens), exceed the value of the particular aircraft to which the Aircraft Liens have attached. Although the financial obligations relating to these Aircraft Liens are the responsibilities of our lessees, if they fail to fulfill their obligations, Aircraft Liens may attach to our aircraft and ultimately become our responsibility. In some jurisdictions, Aircraft Liens may give the holder thereof the right to detain or, in limited cases, sell or cause the forfeiture of the aircraft.
Until they are discharged, Aircraft Liens could impair our ability to repossess, re-lease or resell our aircraft. Our lessees may not comply with their obligations under their respective leases to discharge Aircraft Liens arising during the terms of their leases, whether or not due to financial difficulties. If they do not, we may, in some cases, find it necessary to pay the claims secured by such Aircraft Liens in order to repossess the aircraft. Such payments would adversely affect our cash position and our business generally.
Failure to register aircraft in certain jurisdictions could result in adverse effects and penalties which could materially affect our business.
Pursuant to our existing leases, all of our aircraft are required to be duly registered at all times with the appropriate governmental civil aviation authority. Generally, in jurisdictions outside the United States, failure to maintain the registration of any aircraft that is on-lease would be a default under the applicable lease, entitling us to exercise our rights and remedies thereunder if enforceable under applicable law. If an aircraft were to be operated without a valid registration, the lessee operator or, in some cases, the owner or lessor might be subject to penalties, which could constitute or result in an Aircraft Lien being placed on such aircraft. Lack of registration could have other adverse effects, including the inability to operate the aircraft and loss of insurance coverage, which in turn could have a material adverse effect on our business.
If our lessees fail to comply with government regulations regarding aircraft maintenance, we could be subject to costs that could adversely affect our cash position and our business.
In addition to the general aviation authority regulations and requirements regarding maintenance of aircraft, our aircraft may be subject to further maintenance requirements imposed by airworthiness directives, or Airworthiness Directives, issued by aviation authorities. Airworthiness Directives typically set forth particular special maintenance actions or modifications to certain aircraft types or models that the owners or operators of aircraft must implement.
Each lessee generally is responsible for complying with all of the Airworthiness Directives with respect to the leased aircraft and is required to maintain the aircraft’s airworthiness. However, if a lessee fails to satisfy its obligations, or we have undertaken some obligations as to airworthiness under a lease, we may be required to bear (or, to the extent required under the relevant lease, to share) the cost of any Airworthiness Directives compliance. If any of our aircraft are not subject to a lease, we would be required to bear the entire cost of compliance. Such payments would adversely affect our cash position and our business generally.
Risks associated with the concentration of our lessees in certain geographical regions could harm our business.
Our business is exposed to local economic and political conditions that can influence the performance of lessees located in a particular region. Such adverse economic and political conditions include additional regulation or, in extreme cases, requisition. The effect of these conditions on payments to us will be more or less pronounced, depending on the concentration of lessees in the region with adverse conditions. For the year ended December 31, 2007, lease rental revenues, as a percentage of total revenues, from lessees in the following regions, were 43% in Europe, 16% in North America, 26% in Asia (including 11% in China and 6% in India), 6% in Latin America, and 6% in the Middle East and Africa.
Lease rental revenues from 30 lessees based in Europe accounted for 43% of our total revenues for the year ended December 31, 2007. Commercial airlines in Europe face, and can be expected to continue to face, increased competitive pressures, in part as a result of the deregulation of the airline industry by the European Union and the resultant development of low-cost carriers.
European countries generally have relatively strict environmental regulations and traffic constraints that can restrict operational flexibility and decrease aircraft productivity, which could significantly increase aircraft operating costs of all aircraft, including our aircraft, thereby adversely affecting lessees. The airline industry in European countries, as in the rest of the world generally, is highly sensitive to general economic conditions. A recession or other worsening of economic conditions or a terrorist attack in one or more of these countries, particularly if combined with either or both high fuel prices and a weakening Euro or other local currency, may have a material adverse effect on the ability of European lessees to meet their financial and other obligations under our leases.
North American Concentration
Lease rental revenues from five lessees based in North America accounted for 16% of our total revenues for the year ended December 31, 2007. Despite recent improvements in the financial position of many carriers, airlines remain highly susceptible to macroeconomic and geopolitical factors outside their control. During the past 15 years a number of North American passenger airlines filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings and several U.S. airlines ceased operations altogether. The outbreak of war and prolonged conflict in Iraq and the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States have resulted in tightened security measures and reduced demand for air travel, which, together with steadily rising fuel costs, have imposed additional financial burdens on most U.S. airlines.
Lease rental revenues from 14 lessees based in Asia accounted for 26% of our total revenues for the year ended December 31, 2007. The outbreak of SARS in 2003 had the largest negative impact on Asia, particularly China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. More recently, the Asian airline industry is demonstrating signs of recovery; however, a recurrence of SARS or the outbreak of another epidemic disease, such as avian influenza, which many experts think would originate in Asia, would likely adversely affect the Asian airline industry.
Lease rental revenues from five lessees based in China accounted for 11% of our total revenues for the year ended December 31, 2007. Major obstacles to the Chinese airline industry’s development
exist, including the continuing government control and regulation of the industry. If such control and regulation persists or expands, the Chinese airline industry would likely experience a significant decrease in growth or restrictions on future growth, and it is conceivable that our interests in aircraft on-lease to or our ability to lease to Chinese carriers could be adversely affected.
Lease rental revenues from four lessees in India accounted for 6% of our total revenue for the year ended December 31, 2007. India has, until recently, experienced limited passenger air transport growth, but significant growth is forecast over the next 20 years. Moreover, the financial performance of Indian airlines over the past ten years has been volatile. In response, Indian airlines have placed substantial new equipment orders and it is not clear that airport and passenger handling infrastructure and pilot training capacity will support these planned fleet increases. If Indian airlines are unable to integrate their own new aircraft commitments, the financial performance of Indian airlines may be adversely affected, having an adverse effect on our ability to collect rentals.
Latin American Concentration
Lease rental revenues from five lessees based in Latin America accounted for 6% of our total revenues for the year ended December 31, 2007. Air travel in Latin America continues to grow strongly, fueled by economic improvement and the introduction of low cost carriers to the region. Brazil, Latin America’s largest aviation market, has been plagued by two recent major accidents, both of which raised questions as to the adequacy of its transportation infrastructure to support future growth. Brazilian airlines have large capacity additions planned for 2008, and any restrictions imposed on airport or other infrastructure usage or further degradation of the region’s aviation safety record could have a material adverse effect on carriers’ financial performance and thus our ability to collect lease payments.
Middle East and African Concentration
Lease rental revenues from five lessees based in the Middle East and Africa accounted for 6% of our total revenues for the year ended December 31, 2007. Middle Eastern, and particularly Gulf based carriers, have a large number of aircraft on order and continue to capitalize on the region’s favorable geographic position as an East-West transfer hub. However, ongoing geopolitical tension is a risk to airlines and any aviation related act of terrorism in the region could adversely affect financial performance.
Risks Related to the Aviation Industry
As high fuel prices continue to impact the profitability of the airline industry, our lessees might not be able to meet their lease payment obligations, which would have an adverse effect on our financial results and growth prospects.
Fuel costs represent a major expense to companies operating within the airline industry. Fuel prices fluctuate widely depending primarily on international market conditions, geopolitical and environmental events and currency/exchange rates. As a result, fuel costs are not within the control of lessees and significant changes would materially affect their operating results.
Factors such as natural disasters can significantly affect fuel availability and prices. In August and September 2005, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita inflicted widespread damage along the Gulf Coast of the United States, causing significant disruptions to oil production, refinery operations and pipeline capacity in the region and to oil production in the Gulf of Mexico. These disruptions have resulted in decreased fuel availability and higher fuel prices.
Fuel prices currently remain at historically high levels. The continuing high cost of fuel has had, and sustained high costs in the future may continue to have, a material adverse impact on airlines’ profitability (including our lessees). Due to the competitive nature of the airline industry, airlines have been, and may continue to be, unable to pass on increases in fuel prices to their customers by increasing fares in a manner that fully off-sets the costs incurred. In addition, airlines may not be able to manage this risk by appropriately hedging their exposure to fuel price fluctuations. If fuel prices
remain at historically high levels or increase further due to future terrorist attacks, acts of war, armed hostilities, natural disasters or for any other reason, they are likely to cause our lessees to incur higher costs and/or generate lower revenues, resulting in an adverse impact on their financial condition and liquidity. Consequently, these conditions may (i) affect our lessees’ ability to make rental and other lease payments, (ii) result in lease restructurings and/or aircraft repossessions, (iii) increase our costs of servicing and marketing our aircraft, (iv) impair our ability to re-lease the aircraft or re-lease or otherwise dispose of the aircraft on a timely basis at favorable rates or terms, or at all, and (v) reduce the proceeds received for the aircraft upon any disposition. These results could have an adverse effect on our financial results and growth prospects.
If the effects of terrorist attacks and geopolitical conditions adversely impact the financial condition of the airlines, our lessees might not be able to meet their lease payment obligations, which would have an adverse effect on our financial results and growth prospects.
As a result of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States and subsequent terrorist attacks abroad, notably in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Europe, increased security restrictions were implemented on air travel, airline costs for aircraft insurance and enhanced security measures have increased, and airlines in certain countries continue to rely on government-sponsored programs to acquire war risk insurance. In addition, war or armed hostilities in the Middle East, North Korea or elsewhere, or the fear of such events, could further exacerbate many of the problems experienced as a result of terrorist attacks. The situation in Iraq continues to be uncertain and tension over Iran’s nuclear program continues, and either or both may lead to further instability in the Middle East. Future terrorist attacks, war or armed hostilities, or the fear of such events, could further negatively impact the airline industry and may have an adverse effect on the financial condition and liquidity of our lessees, aircraft values and rental rates and may lead to lease restructurings or aircraft repossessions, all of which could adversely affect our financial results and growth prospects.
Terrorist attacks and geopolitical conditions have negatively affected the airline industry and concerns about geopolitical conditions and further terrorist attacks could continue to negatively affect airlines (including our lessees) for the foreseeable future depending upon various factors, including: (i) higher costs to the airlines due to the increased security measures; (ii) decreased passenger demand and revenue due to the inconvenience of additional security measures; (iii) the price and availability of jet fuel and the cost and practicability of obtaining fuel hedges under current market conditions; (iv) higher financing costs and difficulty in raising the desired amount of proceeds on favorable terms, or at all; (v) the significantly higher costs of aircraft insurance coverage for future claims caused by acts of war, terrorism, sabotage, hijacking and other similar perils, and the extent to which such insurance has been or will continue to be available; (vi) the ability of airlines to reduce their operating costs and conserve financial resources, taking into account the increased costs incurred as a consequence of terrorist attacks and geopolitical conditions, including those referred to above; and (vii) special charges recognized by some airlines, such as those related to the impairment of aircraft and other long lived assets stemming from the grounding of aircraft as a result of terrorist attacks, the economic slowdown and airline reorganizations.
Future terrorist attacks, acts of war or armed hostilities may further increase airline costs, depress air travel demand, depress aircraft values and rental rates or cause certain aviation insurance to become available only at significantly increased premiums (which may be for reduced amounts of coverage that are insufficient to comply with the levels of insurance coverage currently required by aircraft lenders and lessors or by applicable government regulations) or not be available at all.
Although the United States and the governments of some other countries provide for limited government coverage for certain aviation insurance, these programs may not continue nor is there any guarantee such government will pay under these programs in a timely fashion.
If the current industry conditions should continue or become exacerbated due to future terrorist attacks, acts of war or armed hostilities, they are likely to cause our lessees to incur higher costs and to generate lower revenues, resulting in an adverse effect on their financial condition and liquidity. Consequently, these conditions may affect their ability to make rental and other lease payments to us or obtain the types and amounts of insurance required by the applicable leases (which may in turn
lead to aircraft groundings), may result in additional lease restructurings and aircraft repossessions, may increase our cost of re-leasing or selling the aircraft and may impair our ability to re-lease or otherwise dispose of the aircraft on a timely basis, at favorable rates or on favorable terms, or at all, and may reduce the proceeds received for the aircraft upon any disposition. These results could have an adverse effect on our financial results and growth prospects.
The effects of epidemic diseases may negatively impact the airline industry in the future, which might cause our lessees to not be able to meet their lease payment obligations to us, which would have an adverse effect on our financial results and growth prospects.
The spread of SARS in 2003 was linked to air travel early in its development and negatively impacted passenger demand for air travel at that time. While the World Heath Organization’s travel bans related to SARS have been lifted, SARS had a severe impact on the aviation industry, which was evidenced by a sharp reduction in passenger bookings and cancellation of many flights and employee layoffs. While these effects were felt most acutely in Asia, SARS did spread to other areas, including North America. Since 2003, there have been several outbreaks of avian influenza, beginning in Asia and, most recently, spreading to certain parts of Africa and Europe. Although human cases of avian influenza so far have been limited in number, the World Health Organization has expressed serious concern that a human influenza pandemic could develop from the avian influenza virus. In such an event, numerous responses, including travel restrictions, might be necessary to combat the spread of the disease. Additional outbreaks of SARS or other epidemic diseases such as avian influenza, or the fear of such events, could negatively impact passenger demand for air travel and the aviation industry, which could result in our lessees’ inability to satisfy their lease payment obligations to us, which in turn would have an adverse effect on our financial results and growth prospects.
If recent industry economic losses and airline reorganizations continue, our lessees might not be able to meet their lease payment obligations to us, which would have an adverse effect on our financial results and growth prospects.
As a result of reduced fares, international economic conditions, a significant increase in oil prices, the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, the war and prolonged conflict in Iraq and outbreaks of epidemic diseases such as SARS and avian influenza, the aviation industry as a whole suffered significant losses since 2001 and such losses are expected to continue for the foreseeable future for certain parts of the industry. Many airlines, including a significant number of our lessees, have announced or implemented reductions in capacity, service and workforce in response to reductions in passenger demands and fares. In addition, since September 11, 2001, several U.S. airlines have sought to reorganize (and, in certain instances, have reorganized) under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, including United Air Lines, Inc., Delta Air Lines Inc., Northwest Airlines Corp., US Airways, Inc. (one of our largest customers), Hawaiian Airlines, ATA Airlines, Inc., Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, Inc. and Aloha Airlines, and further U.S. airline reorganizations are possible. Certain European and Latin American airlines, including Sabena Air Lines, Swiss Air Transport Company Limited, Volare Airlines S.p.A., Varig Brazilian Airlines and Avianca, have also filed for protection under applicable bankruptcy laws. In addition, Air Canada (the largest Canadian airline) filed for protection under Canada’s Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act. Historically, airlines involved in reorganizations have undertaken substantial fare discounting to maintain cash flows and to encourage continued customer loyalty. Such fare discounting has led to lower profitability for all airlines, including certain of our lessees. The bankruptcies and reduced demand generally have led to the grounding of significant numbers of aircraft and negotiated reductions in aircraft lease rental rates, with the effect of depressing aircraft market values. In addition, requests for additional labor concessions may result in significant labor disputes which could lead to strikes or slowdowns or may otherwise adversely affect labor relations, thereby worsening the financial condition of the airline industry and placing downward pressure on lease rates and aircraft values. Additional reorganizations by airlines under Chapter 11 or liquidations under Chapter 7 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code or other bankruptcy or reorganization laws in other countries or further rejection of aircraft leases or abandonment of aircraft by airlines in a Chapter 11 proceeding under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code or equivalent laws in other countries may have already exacerbated and would be expected to further exacerbate such depressed aircraft values and lease rates. Additional grounded aircraft and lower
market values would adversely affect our ability to sell certain of our aircraft on favorable terms, or at all, or re-lease other aircraft at favorable rates comparable to the then current market conditions, which collectively would have an adverse effect on our financial results and growth prospects.
Risks Related to Our Organization and Structure
If the ownership of our common shares continues to be highly concentrated, it may prevent you and other minority shareholders from influencing significant corporate decisions and may result in conflicts of interest.
As of February 21, 2008, entities affiliated with Fortress funds and an officer of Fortress beneficially own 30,560,875 shares, or approximately 38.9% of our common shares. As a result, Fortress may be able to control fundamental corporate matters and transactions, including: the election of directors; mergers or amalgamations (subject to prior board approval), consolidations or acquisitions; the sale of all or substantially all of our assets; in certain circumstances, the amendment of our bye-laws; and our winding up and dissolution. This concentration of ownership may delay, deter or prevent acts that would be favored by our other shareholders. The interests of the Fortress funds may not always coincide with our interests or the interests of our other shareholders. This concentration of ownership may also have the effect of delaying, preventing or deterring a change in control of our company. Also, the Fortress funds may seek to cause us to take courses of action that, in their judgment, could enhance their investment in us, but which might involve risks to our other shareholders or adversely affect us or our other shareholders. In addition, under our Shareholders Agreement between us and the Fortress funds, based on the current ownership of our common stock by entities affiliated with Fortress funds, an affiliate of Fortress is entitled to designate three directors for election to our board of directors. As a result, the market price of our common shares could decline or shareholders might not receive a premium over the then-current market price of our common shares upon a change in control. In addition, this concentration of share ownership may adversely affect the trading price of our common shares because investors may perceive disadvantages in owning shares in a company with a significant shareholder.
We are a holding company with no operations and rely on our operating subsidiaries to provide us with funds necessary to meet our financial obligations.
We are a holding company with no material direct operations. Our principal assets are the equity interests we directly or indirectly hold in our operating subsidiaries. As a result, we are dependent on loans, dividends and other payments from our subsidiaries to generate the funds necessary to meet our financial obligations and to pay dividends on our common shares. Our subsidiaries are legally distinct from us and may be prohibited or restricted from paying dividends or otherwise making funds available to us under certain conditions.
We are a Bermuda company and it may be difficult for you to enforce judgments against us or our directors and executive officers.
We are a Bermuda exempted company and, as such, the rights of holders of our common shares will be governed by Bermuda law and our memorandum of association and bye-laws. The rights of shareholders under Bermuda law may differ from the rights of shareholders of companies incorporated in other jurisdictions. A substantial portion of our assets are located outside the United States. As a result, it may be difficult for investors to affect service of process on those persons in the United States or to enforce in the United States judgments obtained in U.S. courts against us or those persons based on the civil liability provisions of the U.S. securities laws. Uncertainty exists as to whether courts in Bermuda will enforce judgments obtained in other jurisdictions, including the United States, against us or our directors or officers under the securities laws of those jurisdictions or entertain actions in Bermuda against us or our directors or officers under the securities laws of other jurisdictions.
Our bye-laws restrict shareholders from bringing legal action against our officers and directors.
Our bye-laws contain a broad waiver by our shareholders of any claim or right of action, both individually and on our behalf, against any of our officers or directors. The waiver applies to any
action taken by an officer or director, or the failure of an officer or director to take any action, in the performance of his or her duties, except with respect to any matter involving any fraud or dishonesty on the part of the officer or director. This waiver limits the right of shareholders to assert claims against our officers and directors unless the act or failure to act involves fraud or dishonesty.
We have anti-takeover provisions in our bye-laws that may discourage a change of control.
Our bye-laws contain provisions that could make it more difficult for a third party to acquire us without the consent of our board of directors. These provisions provide for:
|•||a classified board of directors with staggered three-year terms;|
|•||provisions in our bye-laws regarding the election of directors, classes of directors, the term of office of directors and amalgamations to be rescinded, altered or amended only upon approval by a resolution of the directors and by a resolution of our shareholders, including the affirmative votes of at least 66% of the votes attaching to all shares in issue entitling the holder to vote on such resolution;|
|•||provisions in our bye-laws dealing with the removal of directors and corporate opportunity to be rescinded, altered or amended only upon approval by a resolution of the directors and by a resolution of our shareholders, including the affirmative votes of at least 80% of the votes attaching to all shares in issue entitling the holder to vote on such resolution;|
|•||the removal of directors by a resolution, including the affirmative votes of at least 80% of all votes attaching to all shares in issue entitling the holder to vote on such resolution;|
|•||our board of directors to determine the powers, preferences and rights of our preference shares and to issue such preference shares without shareholder approval;|
|•||advance notice requirements by shareholders for director nominations and actions to be taken at annual meetings; and|
|•||no provision for cumulative voting in the election of directors; all the directors standing for election may be elected by our shareholders by a plurality of votes cast at a duly convened annual general meeting, the quorum for which is two or more persons present in person or by proxy at the start of the meeting and representing in excess of 50% of all votes attaching to all shares in issue entitling the holder to vote at the meeting.|
In addition, these provisions may make it difficult and expensive for a third party to pursue a tender offer, change in control or takeover attempt that is opposed by Fortress, our management and/or our board of directors. Public shareholders who might desire to participate in these types of transactions may not have an opportunity to do so. These anti-takeover provisions could substantially impede the ability of public shareholders to benefit from a change in control or change our management and board of directors and, as a result, may adversely affect the market price of our common shares and your ability to realize any potential change of control premium.
There are provisions in our bye-laws that may require certain of our non-U.S. shareholders to sell their shares to us or to a third party.
Our bye-laws provide that if our board of directors determines that we or any of our subsidiaries do not meet, or in the absence of repurchases of shares will fail to meet, the ownership requirements of a limitation on benefits article of any bilateral income tax treaty with the U.S. applicable to us, and that such tax treaty would provide material benefits to us or any of our subsidiaries, we generally have the right, but not the obligation, to repurchase, at fair market value (as determined pursuant to the method set forth in our bye-laws), common shares from any shareholder who beneficially owns more than 5% of our issued and outstanding common shares and who fails to demonstrate to our satisfaction that such shareholder is either (i) a U.S. citizen or (ii) a qualified resident of the U.S. or the other contracting state of any applicable tax treaty with the U.S. (as determined for purposes of the relevant provision of the limitation on benefits article of such treaty).
We will have the option, but not the obligation, to purchase all or a part of the shares held by such shareholder (to the extent the board of directors, in the reasonable exercise of its discretion,
determines it is necessary to avoid or cure such adverse consequences); provided that the board of directors will use its reasonable efforts to exercise this option equitably among similarly situated shareholders (to the extent feasible under the circumstances).
Instead of exercising the repurchase right described above, we will have the right, but not the obligation, to cause the transfer to, and procure the purchase by, any U.S. citizen or a qualified resident of the U.S. or the other contracting state of the applicable tax treaty (as determined for purposes of the relevant provision of the limitation on benefits article of such treaty) of the number of issued and outstanding common shares beneficially owned by any shareholder that are otherwise subject to repurchase under our bye-laws as described above, at fair market value (as determined in the good faith discretion of our board of directors).
Risks Related to Our Common Shares
The market price and trading volume of our common shares may be volatile or may decline regardless of our operating performance, which could result in rapid and substantial losses for our shareholders.
Our common shares have been publicly traded since August 2006 and we cannot predict the extent to which a trading market for our common shares will further develop or be sustained. In addition, the trading volume in our common shares is low and may fluctuate and cause significant price variations to occur. If the market price of our common shares declines significantly, shareholders may be unable to resell their shares at or above their purchase price.
The market price or trading volume of our common shares could be highly volatile and may decline significantly in the future in response to various factors, many of which are beyond our control, including:
|•||variations in our quarterly or annual operating results;|
|•||failure to meet our earnings estimates;|
|•||actual or perceived reduction in our growth or expected future growth;|
|•||actual or anticipated accounting issues;|
|•||publication of research reports about us, other aircraft lessors or the aviation industry or the failure of securities analysts to cover our common shares;|
|•||additions or departures of key management personnel;|
|•||increased volatility in the capital markets and more limited access to debt financing, which may result in increased cost of, or less favorable terms for, debt financing;|
|•||adverse market reaction to any indebtedness we may incur or preference or common shares we may issue in the future;|
|•||changes in our dividend payment policy or failure to execute our existing policy;|
|•||actions by shareholders;|
|•||changes in market valuations of similar companies;|
|•||announcements by us or our competitors of significant contracts, acquisitions, dispositions, strategic partnerships, joint ventures or capital commitments;|
|•||speculation in the press or investment community;|
|•||increases in market interest rates that may lead purchasers of our common shares to demand a higher dividend yield;|
|•||changes or proposed changes in laws or regulations affecting the aviation industry or enforcement of these laws and regulations, or announcements relating to these matters; and|
|•||general market, political and economic conditions and local conditions in the markets in which our lessees are located.|
In addition, the equity markets in general have frequently experienced substantial price and volume fluctuations that have often been unrelated or disproportionate to the operating performance of companies traded in those markets. Changes in economic conditions in the U.S., Europe or globally could also impact our ability to grow profitably. These broad market and industry factors may materially affect the market price of our common shares, regardless of our business or operating performance. In the past, following periods of volatility in the market price of a company’s securities, securities class-action litigation has often been instituted against that company. Such litigation, if instituted against us, could cause us to incur substantial costs and divert management’s attention and resources, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Future debt, which would be senior to our common shares upon liquidation, and additional equity securities, which would dilute the percentage ownership of our then current common shareholders and may be senior to our common shares for the purposes of dividends and liquidation distributions, may adversely affect the market price of our common shares.
In the future, we may attempt to increase our capital resources by incurring debt or issuing additional equity securities, including commercial paper, medium-term notes, senior or subordinated notes or loans and series of preference shares or common shares. Upon liquidation, holders of our debt investments and preference shares and lenders with respect to other borrowings would receive a distribution of our available assets prior to the holders of our common shares. Additional equity offerings would dilute the holdings of our then current common shareholders and could reduce the market price of our common shares, or both. Preference shares, if issued, could have a preference on liquidating distributions or a preference on dividend payments. Restrictive provisions in our debt and/or preference shares could limit our ability to make a distribution to the holders of our common shares. Because our decision to incur more debt or issue additional equity securities in the future will depend on market conditions and other factors beyond our control, we cannot predict or estimate the amount, timing or nature of our future capital raising activities. Thus, holders of our common shares bear the risk of our future debt and equity issuances reducing the market price of our common shares and diluting their percentage ownership in us.
The market price of our common shares could be negatively affected by sales of substantial amounts of our common shares in the public markets.
As of February 21, 2008, there were 78,560,176 shares issued and outstanding, all of which are freely transferable, except for any shares held by our ‘‘affiliates,’’ as that term is defined in Rule 144 under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Act. The remaining outstanding common shares will be deemed ‘‘restricted securities’’ as that term is defined in Rule 144 under the Securities Act.
Pursuant to our Amended and Restated Shareholders Agreement, the Fortress funds and certain Fortress affiliates and permitted third-party transferees have the right, in certain circumstances, to require us to register their 29,000,000 common shares under the Securities Act for sale into the public markets. Upon the effectiveness of such a registration statement, all shares covered by the registration statement will be freely transferable.
In addition, following the completion of our initial public offering in August 2006, we filed a registration statement on Form S-8 under the Securities Act to register an aggregate of 4,000,000 of our common shares reserved for issuance under our equity incentive plan, subject to annual increases of 100,000 common shares per year, beginning in 2007 and continuing through and including 2016. Subject to any restrictions imposed on the shares and options granted under our equity incentive plan, shares registered under the registration statement on Form S-8 are generally available for sale into the public markets.
The issuance of additional common shares in connection with acquisitions or otherwise will dilute all other shareholdings.
As of February 21, 2008, we had an aggregate of 168,684,420 common shares authorized but unissued and not reserved for issuance under our incentive plan. We may issue all of these common
shares without any action or approval by our shareholders. We intend to continue to actively pursue acquisitions of aviation assets and may issue common shares in connection with these acquisitions. Any common shares issued in connection with our acquisitions, our incentive plan, the exercise of outstanding share options or otherwise would dilute the percentage ownership held by existing shareholders.
Risks Related to Taxation
If we were treated as engaged in a trade or business in the United States, it would be subject to U.S. federal income taxation on a net income basis, which would adversely affect our business and result in decreased cash available for distribution to our shareholders.
If, contrary to expectations, we were treated as engaged in a trade or business in the United States, the portion of our net income, if any, that was ‘‘effectively connected’’ with such trade or business would be subject to U.S. federal income taxation at a maximum rate of 35%. In addition, we would be subject to the U.S. federal branch profits tax on its effectively connected earnings and profits at a rate of 30%. The imposition of such taxes would adversely affect our business and would result in decreased cash available for distribution to our shareholders.
If there is not sufficient trading in our shares, Aircastle Bermuda could lose its eligibility for an exemption from U.S. federal income taxation on rental income from its planes used in ‘‘international traffic’’ and could be subject to U.S. federal income taxation on a net income basis which would adversely affect our business and result in decreased cash available for distribution to our shareholders.
Beginning in the 2008 taxable year, Aircastle Bermuda expects to qualify for an exemption from U.S. federal income taxation under Section 883 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, with respect to income derived from aircraft used in ‘‘international traffic’’. For this purpose, ‘‘international traffic’’ includes all flights other than those that are conducted from one point in the United States to another point in the United States. To qualify for this exemption in respect of rental income derived from international traffic, in addition to satisfying certain other requirements, our shares must be primarily and regularly traded on a recognized exchange for more than half the days of the taxable year. Our shares will be considered to be primarily and regularly traded on a recognized exchange in any taxable year if: (1) the number of trades in our shares effected on such recognized stock exchanges exceed the number of our shares (or direct interests in our shares) that are traded during the year on all securities markets; (2) trades in our shares are effected on such stock exchanges in more than de minimis quantities on at least 60 days during every calendar quarter in the year; and (3) the aggregate number of our shares traded on such stock exchanges during the taxable year is at least 10% of the average number of our shares outstanding in that class during that year. If our shares cease to be treated as regularly traded in a taxable year, then we may no longer be eligible for the section 883 exemption for such taxable year. In such case, Aircastle Bermuda’s U.S. source rental income would be subject to U.S. federal income taxation at a maximum rate of 35% as well as state and local taxation. In addition, Aircastle Bermuda would be subject to the U.S. federal branch profits tax on its effectively connected earnings and profits at a rate of 30%. The imposition of such taxes would adversely affect our business and would result in decreased cash available for distribution to our shareholders.
In taxable years prior to 2008, if substantially all of the U.S. source rental income of Aircastle Bermuda were attributable to activities of Aircastle personnel based in the United States, Aircastle Bermuda could be subject to U.S. federal income taxation on a net income basis rather than at a rate of 4% of its U.S. source gross rental income, which would adversely affect our business and result in decreased cash available for distribution to our shareholders.
We have adopted certain operating procedures designed to limit the amount of income generated by Aircastle Bermuda that is treated as effectively connected with a U.S. trade or business. Accordingly, it is generally expected that Aircastle Bermuda’s U.S. source rental income in taxable years prior to 2008 will be subject to U.S. federal taxation, on a gross income basis, at a rate not in excess of 4%. If, contrary to expectations, we did not comply with certain administrative guidelines of the Internal Revenue Service, such that 90% or more of Aircastle Bermuda’s U.S. source rental
income were attributable to the activities of personnel based in the United States in taxable years prior to 2008, Aircastle Bermuda’s U.S. source rental income in such taxable years could be treated as income effectively connected with the conduct of a trade or business in the United States. In such case, Aircastle Bermuda’s U.S. source rental income in such taxable years would be subject to U.S. federal income taxation at a maximum rate of 35% and as well as state and local taxation. In addition, Aircastle Bermuda would be subject to the U.S. federal branch profits tax on its effectively connected earnings and profits in such taxable years at a rate of 30%. The imposition of such taxes would adversely affect our business and would result in decreased cash available for distribution to our shareholders.
One or more of our Irish subsidiaries could fail to qualify for treaty benefits, which would subject certain of their income to U.S. federal income taxation, which would adversely affect our business and result in decreased cash available for distribution to our shareholders.
Our Irish subsidiaries do not expect to have any U.S. federal income tax liability with respect to (i) rental income attributable to aircraft used in international traffic or (ii) gain from the sale of aircraft used in international traffic. For this purpose, ‘‘international traffic’’ includes all flights other than those that are conducted from one point in the United States to another point in the United States. In order for each of our Irish subsidiaries to avoid U.S. federal income taxation of such income, it may be necessary for such subsidiary to qualify for the benefits of the income tax treaty between the United States and Ireland, or the Irish Treaty. Qualification for the benefits of the Irish Treaty depends on many factors, including being able to establish the identity of the ultimate beneficial owners of our common shares. Each of the Irish subsidiaries may not satisfy all the requirements of the Irish Treaty and thereby may not qualify each year for the benefits of the Irish Treaty. Moreover, the provisions of the Irish Treaty may change. Failure to so qualify could result in the rental income from aircraft used for flights to, from or within the United States being subject to U.S. federal income taxation at a maximum rate of 35% (plus the 30% U.S. federal branch profits tax on effectively connected earnings and profits). The imposition of such taxes would adversely affect our business and would result in decreased cash available for distribution to our shareholders.
We may become subject to an increased rate of Irish taxation which would adversely affect our business and would result in decreased earnings available for distribution to our shareholders.
Our Irish subsidiaries and affiliates are expected to be subject to corporation tax on their income from leasing, managing and servicing aircraft at the 12.5% tax rate applicable to trading income. This expectation is based on certain assumptions, including that we will maintain at least the current level of our business operations in Ireland. If we are not successful in achieving trading status in Ireland the income of our Irish subsidiaries and affiliates will be subject to corporation tax at the 25% rate applicable to non-trading activities which would adversely affect our business and would result in decreased earnings available for distribution to our shareholders.
We may become subject to income or other taxes in the non-U.S. jurisdictions in which our aircraft operate, where our lessees are located or where we perform certain services which would adversely affect our business and result in decreased cash available for distributions to shareholders.
Certain Aircastle entities are expected to be subject to the income tax laws of Ireland and/or the United States. In addition, we may be subject to income or other taxes in other jurisdictions by reason of our activities and operations, where our aircraft operate or where the lessees of our aircraft (or others in possession of our aircraft) are located. Although we have adopted operating procedures to reduce the exposure to such taxation, we may be subject to such taxes in the future and such taxes may be substantial. In addition, if we do not follow separate operating guidelines relating to managing a portion of our aircraft portfolio through offices in Ireland and Singapore, income from aircraft not owned in such jurisdictions would be subject to local tax. The imposition of such taxes would adversely affect our business and would result in decreased earnings available for distribution to our shareholders.
We expect to continue to be a passive foreign investment company, or PFIC, and a controlled foreign corporation, or CFC, for U.S. federal income tax purposes.
We expect to continue to be treated as a PFIC and a CFC for U.S. federal income tax purposes. If you are a U.S. person and own less than 10% of our voting shares and do not make a qualified electing fund, or QEF, election with respect to us and each of our PFIC subsidiaries, you would be subject to special deferred tax and interest charges with respect to certain distributions on our common shares, any gain realized on a disposition of our common shares and certain other events. The effect of these deferred tax and interest charges could be materially adverse to you. Alternatively, if you are such a shareholder and make a QEF election for us, or you own 10% or more of our voting shares, you will not be subject to those charges, but could recognize taxable income in a taxable year with respect to our common shares in excess of any distributions that we make to you in that year, thus giving rise to so-called ‘‘phantom income’’ and to a potential out-of-pocket tax liability.
Distributions made to you if you are a U.S. person that is an individual will not be eligible for taxation at reduced tax rates generally applicable to dividends paid by certain United States corporations and ‘‘qualified foreign corporations’’ on or after January 1, 2003. The more favorable rates applicable to regular corporate dividends could cause individuals to perceive investment in our shares to be relatively less attractive than investment in the shares of other corporations, which could adversely affect the value of our shares.
|ITEM 1B.||UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS|
We lease approximately 19,200 square feet of office space in Stamford, Connecticut for our corporate operations. This lease expires in December 2012.
In addition, we lease approximately 3,380 square feet of office space in Dublin, Ireland for our acquisition, aircraft leasing and asset management operations in Europe. The lease for the Irish facility expires in June 2016.
We also lease approximately 1,550 square feet of office space in Singapore for our acquisition, aircraft leasing and asset management operations in Asia. The lease for the Singapore facility expires in November 2009.
We believe our current facilities are adequate for our current needs and that suitable additional space will be available as and when needed.
|ITEM 3.||LEGAL PROCEEDINGS|
The Company is not a party to any material legal or adverse regulatory proceedings.
|ITEM 4.||SUBMISSION OF MATTERS TO A VOTE OF SECURITY HOLDERS|
During the fourth quarter of the fiscal year ended December 31, 2007, no matters were submitted to a vote of security holders.
Executive Officers of the Registrant
Executive officers are elected by our board of directors, and their terms of office continue until the next annual meeting of the board or until their successors are elected and have been duly qualified. There are no family relationships among our executive officers.
Set forth below is information pertaining to our executive officers who held office as of February 21, 2008:
Ron Wainshal, 43, became our Chief Executive Officer in May 2005. Prior to joining Aircastle, Mr. Wainshal was in charge of the Asset Management group of General Electric Commercial Aviation
Services, or GECAS, from 2003 to 2005. After joining GECAS in 1998, Ron led many of GECAS’ U.S. airline restructuring efforts and its bond market activities, and played a major marketing and structured finance role in the Americas. Before joining GECAS, he was a principal and co-owner of a financial advisory company specializing in transportation infrastructure from 1994 to 1998 and prior to that held positions at Capstar Partners and The Transportation Group in New York and Ryder System in Miami. He received a BS in Economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business.
Michael Inglese, 46, became our Chief Financial Officer in April 2007. Prior to joining the Company, Mr. Inglese served as an Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of PanAmSat Holding Corporation, where he served as Chief Financial Officer from June 2000 until the closing of PanAmSat’s sale to Intelsat in July 2006. Mr. Inglese joined PanAmSat in May 1998 as Vice President, Finance after serving as Chief Financial Officer for DIRECTV Japan, Inc. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst who holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Rutgers University College of Engineering and his MBA from Rutgers Graduate School of Business Management.
David Walton, 46, became our General Counsel in March 2005 and our Chief Operating Officer in January 2006. Prior to joining Aircastle, Mr. Walton was Chief Legal Officer of Boullioun Aviation Services, Inc. from 1996 to 2005. Prior to that, Mr. Walton was a partner at the law firm of Perkins Coie in Seattle and Hong Kong. Mr. Walton has over 20 years of experience in aircraft leasing and finance. He received a BA in Political Science from Stanford University and a JD from Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California, Berkeley.
Michael Platt, 47, became our Chief Investment Officer in February 2007. Prior to joining Aircastle, Mr. Platt was Senior Vice President of International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC) in Los Angeles, California where his responsibilities included heading the sales department and leasing aircraft to airlines throughout the world. Prior to working in marketing and sales at ILFC, Mr. Platt was Vice President, Secretary and Corporate Legal Counsel at ILFC. Before joining ILFC, from 1987 to 1992 he was a transactional lawyer for the former McDonnell Douglas Finance Corporation in Long Beach, California where, among other responsibilities, he was involved in commercial aircraft leasing. Mr. Platt received his BA from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 1982 and his JD from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1985.
Joseph Schreiner, 50, became our Executive Vice President, Technical in October 2004. Prior to joining Aircastle, Mr. Schreiner oversaw the technical department at AAR Corp, a provider of products and services to the aviation and defense industries from 1998 to 2004 where he managed aircraft and engine evaluations and inspections, aircraft lease transitions, reconfiguration and heavy maintenance. Prior to AAR, Mr. Schreiner spent 19 years at Boeing (McDonnell-Douglas) in various technical management positions. Mr. Schreiner received a BS from the University of Illinois and a MBA from Pepperdine University.
Aaron Dahlke, 39, became our Chief Accounting Officer in June 2005. Prior to joining Aircastle, Mr. Dahlke was Vice President and Controller of Boullioun Aviation Services Inc. from January 2003 to May 2005. Prior to Boullioun, Mr. Dahlke was at ImageX.com, Inc. and Ernst & Young LLP. He received a B.S. in Accounting from California State University San Bernardino.
|ITEM 5.||MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES|
Our common shares are listed for trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol ‘‘AYR’’. As of February 15, 2008, there were approximately 15,724 record holders of our common shares.
The following table sets forth the quarterly high and low prices of our common shares on the New York Stock Exchange for the periods indicated since our initial public offering and dividends during such periods:
|Year Ending December 31, 2006:|
|Third Quarter (from August 8, 2006)||$||30.00||$||25.75||$||0.35||(1 )|
|Year Ending December 31, 2007:|
|(1)||Dividends for the three months ended September 30, 2006 were paid in two installments. A dividend of $0.156 per common share was paid on August 15, 2006 for the period July 1, 2006 to August 12, 2006 for the period prior to our initial public offering. A dividend of $0.194 per common share was paid on November 15, 2006 for the period after our initial public offering.|
We intend to continue to pay regular quarterly dividends to our shareholders; however, our ability to pay, maintain or expand cash dividends to our shareholders and to execute our dividend payment strategy is subject to the discretion of our board of directors and will depend on many factors, including our ability to make and finance acquisitions, our ability to renew or replace existing credit facilities and repurchase obligations, our ability to negotiate favorable lease and other contractual terms, the level of demand for our aircraft, the economic condition of the commercial aviation industry generally, the financial condition and liquidity of our lessees, the lease rates we are able to charge and realize, our leasing costs, unexpected or increased expenses, the level and timing of capital expenditures, principal repayments, margin call requirements, and other capital needs, the value of our aircraft portfolio, our results of operations, financial condition and liquidity, general business conditions, restrictions imposed by our securitizations or other financing arrangements (including our credit facilities), legal restrictions on the payment of dividends and other factors that our board of directors deems relevant. Some of the factors are beyond our control and a change in any such factor could affect our ability to pay dividends on our common shares. In the future we may not be able to pay or maintain dividends. We also may not be able to maintain our current level of dividends or increase them over time. Increases in demand for our aircraft and operating lease payments may not occur, and may not increase our actual cash available for dividends to our common shareholders. The failure to maintain or pay dividends would adversely affect our share price.
Recent Sales of Unregistered Securities
The following is a summary of transactions by us involving sales of our securities that were not registered under the Securities Act during the last three years preceding the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Sale of Common Shares
On April 28, 2006, we issued 200,000 of our common shares to Peter V. Ueberroth and Virginia Ueberroth, as trustees of the Ueberroth Family Trust, for an aggregate offering price of $1,000,000. No underwriters were involved in this sale of securities. The securities described in this paragraph were issued to a U.S. investor in reliance upon the exemption from the registration requirements of the Securities Act, as set forth in Section 4(2) under the Securities Act and Rule 506 of Regulation D promulgated thereunder relating to sales by an issuer not involving any public offering, to the extent an exemption from such registration was required. The purchaser of our common shares described above represented to us in connection with their purchase that they were an accredited investor and were acquiring the shares for investment and not distribution, that they could bear the risks of the investment and could hold the securities for an indefinite period of time. The purchaser received written disclosures that the securities had not been registered under the Securities Act and that any resale must be made pursuant to a registration or an available exemption from such registration. The sales of these securities were made without general solicitation or advertising.
Stock Option Grants and Grants of Restricted Shares
From time to time, we have issued restricted shares to our employees under our 2005 Equity and Incentive Compensation Plan. A portion of the grants of restricted shares set forth below was exempt from registration under Section 701 of the Securities Act because they were made under written compensatory plans or agreements and the remainder were exempt under Section 4(2) of the Securities Act.
|•||In February 2006, we issued to certain of our employees an aggregate of 780,000 restricted shares and restricted share units, scheduled to vest over a four to five year period from the grant date.|
|•||In March 2006, we issued to an employee 5,000 restricted shares, scheduled to vest over a five year period from the grant date.|
|•||In April 2006, we issued to certain of our employees an aggregate of 77,000 restricted shares, which immediately vested for an aggregate purchase price of $770,000.|
The following graph compares the cumulative 16-month total return to holders of our common shares relative to the cumulative total returns of the S & P 500 Index and (i) a customized peer group of six companies that we presented in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the period ended December 31, 2006: AerCap Holdings NV (NYSE: AER), Copano Energy LLC (NASDAQ: CPNO), Energy Transfer Partners L.P. (NYSE: ETP), Genesis Lease Limited (NYSE: GLS), Seaspan Corp. (NYSE: SSW) and Teekay LNG Partners (NYSE: TGP) (the ‘‘2006 Peer Group’’) and (ii) a customized peer group consisting of the three other publicly traded aircraft leasing companies: AerCap Holdings NV (NYSE: AER), Babcock & Brown Air Ltd. (NYSE: FLY) and Genesis Lease Limited (NYSE: GLS) (the ‘‘New Peer Group’’). Aircastle believes that the New Peer Group, AerCap Holdings NV (NYSE: AER), Genesis Lease Limited (NYSE: GLS), and Babcock & Brown Air Ltd. (NYSE: FLY), comprises the most meaningful benchmark against which to measure Aircastle’s performance because each company’s primary business is the acquisition and leasing of aviation assets. These companies were either not yet publicly traded in 2006 or had only been publicly traded for short periods of time, and therefore Aircastle believed that a broader peer group provided more meaningful data for 2006. The 2006 Peer Group and New Peer Group investments are weighted among shares in the respective peer group by market capitalization and adjusted monthly. An investment of $100 (with reinvestment of all dividends) is assumed to have been made in Aircastle
common shares and in the shares of both the 2006 Peer Group and the New Peer Group on August 7, 2006, and is assumed to have been made in the S & P 500 Index on July 31, 2006, with the relative performance of each tracked through December 31, 2007.
COMPARISON OF 16 MONTH CUMULATIVE TOTAL RETURN*
Among Aircastle Limited, The S&P 500 Index,
The New Peer Group And The 2006 Peer Group
|*||$100 invested on 8/7/06 in AYR Common Shares or 7/31/06 in the S&P 500 Index, including reinvestment of dividends.|
|New Peer Group||100.00||100.00||100.00||100.00||100.00||102.11|
|2006 Peer Group||100.00||103.89||102.06||108.47||118.41||119.00|
|New Peer Group||115.78||118.71||124.27||126.11||133.32||135.50||114.51||110.67||110.77||107.93||96.85||90.24|
|2006 Peer Group||124.21||128.92||135.31||145.21||148.02||150.79||139.05||130.64||125.68||135.82||125.64||124.52|
ITEM 6. SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA
The selected historical consolidated financial, operating and other data as of December 31, 2006 and 2007 and for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2007 presented in this table are derived from our audited consolidated financial statements and related notes thereto appearing elsewhere in this Annual Report. The selected consolidated financial data as of December 31, 2004 and 2005 and for the period from October 29, 2004 through December 31, 2004 presented in this table are derived from our audited consolidated financial statements and related notes thereto, which are not included in this Annual Report. You should read these tables along with Item 7. ‘‘Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations’’ and our consolidated financial statements and the related notes thereto included elsewhere in this Annual report.
Year Ended December 31,
|(Dollars in thousands, except per share data)|