Udvar-Hazy ‘Ready’ to Buy Back ILFC After IPO for Air Lease

Steven Udvar-Hazy, who this week staged the jet-leasing industry’s biggest initial public offering, said he’s “absolutely” interested in buying back the company he sold to American International Group Inc. (AIG) in 1990.

Udvar-Hazy said he tried “very hard” to repurchase International Lease Finance Corp. from AIG in 2009, when the lessor was strained by the financing woes that spurred the New York-based insurer to seek a federal bailout.

“At that point, AIG priorities were focused on repaying the government obligations,” Udvar-Hazy said today in a Bloomberg Television interview in New York. “Once the board of AIG makes the determination of what they want to do with ILFC and the government backs that plan, then I think we’ll certainly be ready to sit down at the table.”

AIG said in February it will consider raising funds from Los Angeles-based ILFC, without giving a timetable for a sale. Udvar-Hazy left the leasing company in February 2010 and started Air Lease Corp., whose shares began trading yesterday on the New York Stock Exchange.

Mark Herr, a spokesman for AIG, declined to comment. AIG has raised more than $50 billion divesting assets including non- U.S. life insurance divisions since its 2008 bailout. AIG said this week it agreed to sell a rail-car leasing unit to Perella Weinberg Partners LP.

‘Great Company’

“It’s a great company,” Udvar-Hazy said of ILFC. “Hopefully we can work together at some point in the future.”

Air Lease’s fleet has 53 aircraft, and will expand to 100 planes by the end of 2011 and 500 within the next five years, said Udvar-Hazy, the chairman and chief executive officer at the Los Angeles-based company. The “primary growth will be organic,” Udvar-Hazy said.

Air Lease said yesterday it exercised the full over- allotment option, meaning the company sold 34.8 million shares this week to raise $868 million after deducting IPO expenses.

AIG rose 23 cents to $32.35 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading, its first gain after 10 declines. Air Lease climbed 15 cents to $28.10.

Udvar-Hazy’s sale of ILFC to AIG made him a billionaire. When the so-called godfather of jet leasing left ILFC last year, he was managing a fleet of about 1,000 aircraft valued at roughly $44 billion. Now 65, he said he has no plans to retire.

“This is an exciting business,” he said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Susanna Ray in Seattle at sray7@bloomberg.net; Laura Lee in New York at llee17@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ed Dufner at edufner@bloomberg.net

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