Emirates’ Dnata Looking for Acquisitions After Record Year

  • Dnata interested in ground-handling operations in Iran
  • Emirates has financing covered for 36 plane deliveries

Emirates Group’s aviation services arm is looking for acquisition opportunities after the cash-rich unit reported a record profit.

“We’re looking for good opportunities, solid opportunities, ones which we believe we can integrate into the business so we don’t erode the quality and standards that we aspire to," Gary Chapman, president of Dnata and Emirates Group Services, said in an interview with Bloomberg TV.

Profit at Dnata crossed the 1 billion-dirham ($272 million) mark for the first time in the fiscal year ending March 31. Dnata, which has made a series of acquisitions in travel and airport operations globally over the last few years, has 3.5 billion dirhams in cash assets and is "confident" in replicating another year of profit despite tough market conditions, Chapman said.

Dnata is returning to the Iranian market through travel services with a local partner but would "love" to resume ground-handling operations in the Islamic Republic depending on its ability to get a license, he said.

Chapman said Emirates has airplane financing covered this fiscal year.

“We haven’t made any plans to tap the bond and sukuk market right now, but we have already mandated or have firm offers for all 36 aircraft in place so we’re in a good space," he said. “We’re sitting on about $5 billion in cash, so we’re in a pretty good condition, as long as we deliver strong financial results, we’re always going to find willing markets to support us."

Emirates Group’s profit jumped 50 percent to 8.2 billion dirhams in the last fiscal year. The strong U.S. dollar and the threat of protectionism is some countries will remain a challenge in the year ahead, it said earlier this month.

The airline has no plans to start hedging against fluctuating fuel prices, Chapman said.

“The trouble is you can get caught up in day to day movements, you’ve got to look at the fundamentals: those airlines that hedged in the past have suffered and their results suffered," he said. “Fundamentally, we don’t see a great deal of upside to oil prices right now.”

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