Jet Support Services Inc buys Shearwater Global Capital – Miller time at JSSI

Corporate Jet Investor Miami 2014

Left to right: Chris Miller, Guggenheim Partners; Mike Kahmann, CIT Business Aircraft.

Jet Support Services Inc (JSSI) has acquired Shearwater Global Capital, the specialist aircraft financier. Chris Miller, Shearwater’s founder and the rest of the team will join the newly-launched JSSI Aviation Capital.

“Joining JSSI gives us the opportunity to grow the business faster than we can alone,” Miller tells Corporate Jet Investor. “We will have more access to capital and also can work with the salespeople across the whole JSSI platform to originate more deals.”

Shearwater rarely competes with banks. As an asset backed lender, it has always focused on the underlying aircraft more than the customer’s credit. A lot of its deals have been outside of the US for aircraft older than 10 years with an average deal size of about $5m-$8m.

JSSI Aviation Capital will have a similar strategy, but with a focus on the US market as well. 

Miller started in aviation in the US Marine Corps as an F/A-18 pilot. He launched Shearwater in 2014 after heading Guggenheim Partners’ Business Aircraft Investment Group (which was acquired by Stonebriar Commercial Finance). JSSI was also an early investor in Guggenheim Partners’ Business Aircraft and has invested in past Shearwater deals.

Shearwater worked closely with family offices and private equity to source cash. JSSI Aviation Capital is also keen to work with banks looking to syndicate deals or to be a quality alternative for a customer that may not meet their financing criteria.

“We have worked with Chris for over a decade and know the business well,” Neil Book, president, JSSI tells CJI. 

Backed by private equity firms GTCR and Genstar, JSSI’s business has transformed in recent years. Best known for its maintenance programmes, JSSI has acquired or created several businesses including Conklin & de Decker an information company, which went alongside the launch of JSSI Advisory Services (which offers appraisals, inspections and consulting). JSSI also acquired TRAXXALL and SierraTrax two maintenance tracking software companies.

One of its fastest growing businesses is JSSI Parts & Leasing, which sources parts and leases spare engines. It has also financed a few aircraft in special situations. “Our focus has always been on simplifying the complexities of maintaining an aircraft and providing a great customer experience. Who better to offer asset-based financing solutions?” says Book. 

“We help protect the asset value by providing maintenance tracking software, maintenance programmes and 24/7 AOG support,” he says. It is a different product, but fundamentally all about protecting an aircraft’s value which is what our businesses do.”

Like Shearwater, JSSI Aviation Capital will expect borrowers to keep at least a third of the aircraft’s value in equity and require approved third party aircraft management.

The acquisition closed in early May with JSSI Aviation Capital closing is first deal – for a southeast Asian aircraft – today. Miller adds: “We are already growing the portfolio and there are a lot more deals to come.”



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