Thank you AirFinance Journal for featuring Congo Airways and quoting me in your February edition. Here’s the entire article entitled: Private equity a ‘game‐changer’ for carriers: Congo Airways by Jack Dutton.
Investment from a private equity firm can be the ‘game‐changer’ for African carriers that allows them to grow and operate successfully, Jerome Maillet, deputy chief executive officer of Congo Airways told Airfinance Journal’s African AirFinance conference today.
We believe that private equity is truly the game‐changer,” he said at the 2nd annual conference in Johannesburg. “We think it might be the way to boost and unlock other financing [for African carriers].
At Congo Airways, we have a minority, high profile private equity firm investing in us. We are not just looking at the money, per say, but we’re looking at all the other benefits that are key to grow the business and to ensure you have good management and good corporate governance.
He says that this is due to private equity firms wanting to see a rise in share prices.
Private equity will bring you beyond the cash, because they’ve done their homework, their due diligence. They will bring you good governance and fight any corruption and bad behaviour. They are going to bring exactly what Emirates brings to Angola with TAAG Airlines.
TAAG Angolan Airlines went through a change in management in at the end of 2014, when Emirates signed a 10‐year agreement with them to codeshare and help restore the profitability of the carrier.
Later in his keynote speech, Maillet pointed out that commercial bank debt can sometimes be difficult for African carriers to obtain because of the high credit risk of many African airlines. He also highlights that export credit agency‐backed funding is limited at this time.
He also sees the possibility of more mezzanine debt being used by African carriers.
Mezzanine debt is not really widespread [in Africa], but we think there’s something to do here. It’s something you can use as the layer between the equity and the commercial debt, so that might be interesting. It allows you to be flexible and allows you to customize your deal the way you want, by issuer and lender.
Congo Airways operates a fleet of four aircraft, two Airbus A320s and two Bombardier Q400s.