Monday, May 05, 2014

Leonard Green Is Sued by ILFC: Jet-Leasing Company Adds Private-Equity Firm to Trade-Secrets Complaint

The Wall Street Journal

By Doug Cameron

May 4, 2014 9:43 p.m. ET

Leonard Green & Partners L.P., the private-equity firm, is being sued by one of the world's largest jet-leasing companies for its alleged role in helping a rival accused of stealing trade secrets and other confidential information.

International Lease Finance Corp. added Leonard Green in an amendment to the lawsuit filed last April against Air Lease Corp., a fast-growing leasing company launched by ILFC founder Steven Udvar-Hazy and other former executives, according to a regulatory filing Friday.

The legal spat involves some of the aircraft finance sector's best-known figures and comes ahead of the planned $5.4 billion sale of ILFC by parent American International Group Inc. to AerCap Holdings NV, a rival jet lessor. The deal is expected to close this month.

Leonard Green was an early shareholder in Air Lease before its flotation, and it is the first external party to be added to the legal action launched against the company and some of its executives.

ILFC alleged in the filing that Leonard Green assisted Air Lease executives' "breaches of their fiduciary duties and duty of loyalty to ILFC and for unfair competition." ILFC declined further comment.

A spokeswoman for Leonard Green declined comment.

Air Lease, which declined comment, countersued AIG and ILFC last August, seeking more than $500 million in damages for alleged breach of contract.

AIG, which reports earnings on Monday, agreed in December to sell ILFC for $5.4 billion in cash and stock. AIG would retain a 46% stake in the enlarged AerCap.

ILFC disclosed in the filing that AerCap planned to transfer its fleet of almost 1,000 aircraft to an entity with an Irish tax residency, in line with most of the Netherlands-based jet portfolio.

In its filing, ILFC said first-quarter profit rose to $124.1 million from $49.6 million.