Bahrain sovereign wealth fund buys stake in FAI


Bahrain Mumtalakat, the sovereign wealth fund of the Kingdom of Bahrain, has made its first business aviation investment. The company has acquired a stake in Axtmann Aviation Holding, the parent company of FAI Group.

FAI has a mixed owned, leased and managed fleet and specializes in medical flights, special missions (including humanitarian ones) as well as more traditional charter, maintenance and aircraft management. It plans to work with Mumtalakat to buy other business aviation companies.

“This is very much a strategic partnership. The Middle East is already an important market for us and we plan to grow this both organically and inorganically,” says Siegfried Axtmann, chairman of FAI. “We want to enlarge our footprint outside Europe and this should be easier with a long-term engaged investor.”

Axtmann says that FAI hopes to complete its first acquisition this year. “We are not targeting growth for growth’s sake. Our aim is not to collect AOCs but look at acquiring profitable companies with a strong future. We are not setting hard targets.”

FAI is Mumtalakat’s first German investment.

“It has perhaps never been as important as it is today to support rapid aviation response to crisis situations,” said Mahmood Alkooheji, CEO, Mumtalakat. “This investment is aligned with our objective to invest in companies with strong track records of growth and experienced management teams,”

The fund owns stakes in more than 40 companies including Bahrain’s flag carrier Gulf Air, Gulf Aviation Academy, Bahrain Airport and car company McLaren.

“Aviation is a key component of our portfolio and we aim to leverage our sector knowledge and expertise to add value to the company and support its potential expansion into the wider GCC region,” says Alkooheji.

The transaction was arranged by Jefferies which is rapidly becoming the house investment bank for business aviation. This is the bank’s 12th business aviation transaction since 2013 with other clients including Wheels Up, Gama Aviation, VistaJet, Standard Aero and BBA Aviation.

“We are seeing an increasing level of investor interest in the broader business aviation sector including fleet operators and special mission focused players,” says Nick Fazioli of Jefferies Aerospace and Aviation Investment Banking Group. “There is a view that there is a need for consolidation in the sector and the momentum is definitely building for owners looking to sell, corporates looking for capital for mergers and acquisitions and fleet operators looking to fund assets.”