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Global aircraft leasing business Fly Leasing is acquiring more than 100 aircraft in a deal with one of Asia’s fastest expanding airline groups.

Under the deal with AirAsia Berhad (AAB) and Asia Aviation Capital (AAC), part of AirAsia Group, it will acquire 54 airbus narrowbody aircraft and seven CFM engines on lease to AAB, in addition to another airbus leased to a third-party airline.

Fly Leasing will acquire the option to purchase an additional 20 Airbus aircraft, not subject to lease, which begin delivering from the manufacturer in 2019.

The deal is worth approximately $1 billion in cash, while AAB will also receive shares in Fly Leasing.

The transaction is expected to close in the second and third quarters of 2018, subject to approval by AAB shareholders and regulators.

The agreement is part of a larger acquisition under which Fly Leasing, Nomura Babcock & Brown and Incline Aviation will acquire a total of 132 aircraft from AAB and AAC, as well as options to acquire 50 further aircraft, to be delivered in the future.

Colm Barrington, chief executive officer of Fly Leasing, said: “We are thrilled to partner with one of Asia’s premier and fastest expanding airline groups. 

“These investments will grow Fly’s fleet with the most attractive and newest generation of narrowbody aircraft on known lease and financing terms.”

Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, AirAsia Group chief executive officer, said: “This is a perfect outcome to a strategy we started in 2004 and I'm thrilled at the execution of our long-term vision. We have now disposed most of our physical non-core assets and we are thrilled to be embarking on our new digital strategy, which will build a very valuable group of assets.”

Fly Leasing is managed and serviced by BBAM, the world's largest dedicated manager of investments in leased commercial jet aircraft that provides more than 200 airline customers in more than 50 countries with fleet and financing solutions.

BBAM supported the deal and will extend its shareholding in Fly Leasing.

Steve Zissis, chief executive officer of BBAM, said: “BBAM is providing Fly with unique access to a major investment opportunity that Fly would not have been able to pursue on its own.”