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Aircraft lessor Aircastle to be bought in $2.4 billion deal

(Reuters) - Aircastle Ltd AYR.N said on Wednesday Japan's Marubeni Corp 8002.T and Mizuho Leasing Co Ltd 8425.T had offered to buy the aircraft lessor in a deal valued at $2.4 billion, ending a nearly two-week long strategic review of its business.

Shares of the company rose 16% to trade in line with the offer price of $32 per share. Marubeni, the company’s largest shareholder, has a 29% stake in Aircastle as of Oct. 23 that is currently valued at about $600 million.

Aircastle, which owned and managed 277 aircraft in 48 countries as of Sept. 30, counts American Airlines AAL.O, Southwest Airlines LUV.N and United Airlines UAL.O among its customers.

Airline bankruptcies have increased this year at the fastest ever rate, led by the collapse of India's Jet Airways JET.NS, British travel group Thomas Cook and Avianca of Brazil, adding pressure on aircraft leasing companies.

Fitch Ratings said in September that it expects the sector to worsen in the medium term with a potential rise in airline bankruptcies, further aircraft repossessions and increased financing costs. (bit.ly/2qrjaG5)

The deal, which is valued at $7.4 billion including debt, is expected to close in the first half of 2020, Aircastle said.

Citigroup Global Markets Inc will serve as financial adviser to Aircastle.

Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Anil D’Silva

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