US alternative asset manager The Blackstone Group LP (NYSE:BX) has become a controlling shareholder in Maldivian Air Taxi (MAT) and Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA).
Blackstone did not say how much it had paid for the majority stakes in the two Maldivian seaplane operators. The buyer employed the advisory services of Deutsche Bank AG (ETR:DBK) and HSBC Holdings Plc (LON:HSBA), while the vendors relied on counsel from Churchill Capital Ltd and Northern Lights.
MAT founder Lars Erik Nielsen and TMA’s former majority shareholders Lars Petre and Hussain Afeef will remain in possession of sizeable stakes and will continue to be involved with the business. The trio will get board seats at the combined entity, Blackstone added.
Blackstone senior managing director Prakash Melwani stated that the investment underscored his company’s ongoing commitment to the travel and tourism sectors. Over the past decade, Maldives has emerged as an extremely attractive holiday destination and the combination of MAT and TMA will create a business that will take the local tourist industry to new heights, Melwani added.
According to the statement, TMA is the oldest Maldivian air services provider, while MAT is the world’s top seaplane operator. The combined company will have a workforce of more than 900 and a fleet of 44 seaplanes, undertaking more than 100,000 flights a year.