• Buyout firm hopes to merge company with StandardAero
  • Other interested bidders include Onex Corp, PSP Investments

Veritas Capital, a New York based private-equity firm, is the leading bidder to acquire Airbus Group SE’s aircraft maintenance and repair unit Vector Aerospace Corp., according to people familiar with the matter.

If successful, the buyout firm plans to combine the unit, which could fetch as much as $800 million, with its existing portfolio company StandardAero Aviation Holdings Inc., said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

Discussions are still ongoing and may not result in a transaction, the people said. Other financial sponsors including Canada’s Onex Corp. and Public Sector Pension Investment Board are interested in buying the company and remain in the process, the people said. Royal Bank of Canada and Moelis & Co. are advising Airbus on the sale, the people said.

Representatives for Airbus, Veritas, Onex, PSP, RBC and Moelis declined to comment.

A complicating factor for Veritas, which raised $1.8 billion for its fifth fund in 2014, is putting together a workable capital structure for the deal. When the buyout firm bought StandardAero in July 2015, it said the deal valued the company at $2.1 billion, leaving it with a sizeable debt load, two of the people said. Any deal for Vector will require a new capital structure for the company, those people said.

Toronto-based Vector, which can trace its origins back to the formation of Canadian firm Okanagan Helicopters in 1947, was bought by Airbus in 2011. The company has more than 3,000 military, commercial and private operators repair and maintenance contract in over 85 nations, including the U.K. government’s Chinook fleet, according to the company’s website.

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