Blackstone Announces Acquisition of a Majority Stake in Maldivian Air Taxi and Trans Maldivian Airways

  Blackstone Announces Acquisition of a Majority Stake in Maldivian Air Taxi
  and Trans Maldivian Airways

Business Wire

NEW YORK & MALE, Maldives -- February 3, 2013

Blackstone (NYSE: BX) today announced that a private equity fund managed by
Blackstone on behalf of its private equity investors has acquired a
controlling interest in two Maldives-based seaplane operators – Maldivian Air
Taxi “MAT” and Trans Maldivian Airways “TMA”. Following the transaction, Mr.
Lars Erik Nielsen (Founder, MAT), Mr. Lars Petré and Mr. Hussain Afeef
(majority shareholders, TMA) will retain a substantial shareholding and
continue to play a significant role in the companies, including serving as
directors on the board. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Seaplane Base of the Male' International Airport, Maldives (Photo: Business
Wire)

Seaplane Base of the Male' International Airport, Maldives (Photo: Business
Wire)

Maldives is a popular tourist destination with over 1,000 islands. With a
unique ‘one–island one–resort’ concept, Maldives has witnessed a strong
increase in tourist arrivals over the last ten years with 2012 witnessing an
all-time high tourist arrival of almost one million tourists. Established in
1989, TMA is the oldest air services operator in the Maldives and operates
over 20 seaplanes. Established in 1992, Maldivian Air Taxi has grown to become
the biggest seaplane operator in the world. Together the two airlines will
operate 44 seaplanes and conduct well over 100,000 flights per year making
them the world’s largest Twin Otter operator on land or sea. MAT and TMA
connect resort islands with the Hulhule International airport. Both airlines
are based on the Hulhule Airport Island in Maldives and together employ over
900 people.

Prakash Melwani, Senior Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer at
Blackstone’s Private Equity unit based in New York, said “Maldives is a unique
and highly desirable holiday destination. Our investment in MAT and TMA will
enable us to build a strong partnership with the Maldives. We have been
impressed by the quality of the management teams of both companies and the
sophistication of their operations. We are excited to partner with MAT and
TMA, whose seaplane operations have contributed significantly to the
development of resort islands further away from Male and making them
accessible to tourists. Blackstone manages, through its portfolio companies,
the largest number of hotel rooms in the world and this transaction marks our
sustained enthusiasm for the travel and tourism space.”

Mr. Lars Petré (Chairman, TMA) said, “We have partnered with Blackstone, one
of the leading private equity firms in the world, to help take our business
and tourism in the Maldives to the next level. The Maldivian economy will gain
from the presence of one of the world’s largest and most respected investment
firms.”

Mr. Lars Nielsen, (Chairman, MAT), said “We are extremely happy to partner
with Blackstone in the combined enterprise. With their strong network and
operational focus, Blackstone will contribute significant value to the
venture. This will be beneficial to the employees and enhance their career
growth. In addition, together we look forward to delivering more efficient
services to the tourists coming to the Maldives and the resorts in which they
are staying. This combination will increase service efficiency to our
resorts.”

Mr. Hussain Afeef (Director, TMA), further added “We are committed to playing
a significant role in building the tourism industry in the Maldives.
Blackstone will bring to Maldives a wide global experience and an established
track record in the tourism and hospitality sector. Incorporating global best
practices would be beneficial not just to the companies but to the tourism
industry, in general.”

Deutsche Bank (NYSE:DB) and HSBC (NYSE:HBC) served as buy-side advisors on the
transaction. The sellers were advised by Churchill Capital and Northern
Lights.

About Blackstone

Blackstone is one of the world’s leading investment and advisory firms. We
seek to create positive economic impact and long-term value for our investors,
the companies we invest in, the companies we advise and the broader global
economy. We do this through the commitment of our extraordinary people and
flexible capital. Our alternative asset management businesses include the
management of private equity funds, real estate funds, hedge fund solutions,
credit-oriented funds and closed-end funds. Blackstone also provides various
financial advisory services, including financial and strategic advisory,
restructuring and reorganization advisory and fund placement services. Further
information is available at www.blackstone.com. Follow us on Twitter
@Blackstone.

About Maldivian Air Taxi

Maldivian Air Taxi was set up in 1992 to provide sea plane transfer services
in Maldives. Based in the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport, MAT operates
over 20 De Havilland Twin Otter aircraft. It offers a wide range of services
from excursions to photo flights and charters, in addition to providing
transfer services for tourists arriving in Maldives. See
http://www.maldivianairtaxi.com/ for more details.

About Trans Maldivian Airways

The company was started in 1988, as a helicopter operator under the name
Hummingbird in Maldives. In 1998, Lars Petré, Hussain Afeef and Mohammed Moosa
invested in the company and rebranded it to Trans Maldivian Airways and
changed the fleet to Twin Otter only. It currently operates over 20 Twin
Otters. During 2011, TMA took delivery of three brand new DHC‐6‐400 aircraft.
TMA operates its own Sea Plane Terminal at Ibrahim Nasir International
Airport, with 13 exclusive lounges for select resorts.

See http://www.tma.com.mv for more details.

Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available:
http://www.businesswire.com/multimedia/home/20130203005036/en/

Multimedia
Available:http://www.businesswire.com/cgi-bin/mmg.cgi?eid=50551583&lang=en

Contact:

Blackstone
New York
Peter Rose, + 1 212 583 5871
rose@blackstone.com
or
Trans Maldivian Airways
Male
Ahmad Latheef, + 960 334 8414
dmd@tma.com.mv
 
Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.