Gatwick Airport co-owner wins £3.4bn takeover battle for Signature Aviation

Gatwick Airport co-owner Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) has sealed a 4.6 billion dollar (£3.4 billion) takeover of private jet operator Signature Aviation.

GIP has trumped private equity giants Blackstone and Carlyle to snap up the London-based business.

The deal comes after Blackstone said on Friday that it hoped to complete a deal after winning the support of Signature’s largest shareholder, Bill Gates.

New York-based GIP said it will pay shareholders 5.50 dollars (£4.07) in cash per share, representing a 51% premium on the FTSE 250 company’s closing price on December 16, before the bid was tabled.

Sir Nigel Rudd, chair of Signature, said: “Over recent years, the management of Signature has created a leading global private aviation support services business whilst streamlining the group to maximise value for shareholders.

“The resilient performance and strong financial position through the pandemic has enabled the Signature directors to consider its future and evaluate this offer from a position of strength.

“We believe that the offer from GIP represents an attractive and certain value in cash today for signature Shareholders, reflecting the high quality of the business and its network, its people and its future prospects.”

Adebayo Ogunlesi, the chairman and managing partner of GIP, said: “As an experienced, long-term infrastructure investor with a strong operational focus, we believe that we are the ideal partner for Signature going forward.

“We plan to put customer service, operational consistency and growth at the heart of our strategy supported by plans to continue to improve employee engagement and through targeted investment.

“As with all our portfolio businesses, we are mindful of our responsibilities to all stakeholders and believe that Signature can innovate and evolve as both it, and the aviation industry more generally, delivers on their commitments to climate change.”