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US PE firm 777 Partners in talks with Boeing, ATR over new jet order

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By Abhijith Ganapavaram

(Reuters) – U.S. private equity firm 777 Partners has said it is in talks with Boeing Co and Franco-Italian turboprop maker ATR over a new jet order, as it looks to enter more markets amid a boom in air travel.

“We’ve been in discussions with the (aircraft) manufacturers. I think right now the big issue with ordering jets is when you’re going to receive them,” 777 Managing Partner Josh Wander told Reuters in an interview on Thursday, without disclosing specific numbers.

The talks come amid a rush for planes by airlines eager to tap into a greater-than-expected recovery in air travel.

Miami-based 777, which invests its founders’ money rather than seeking funds from other investors and has about $10 billion in assets under management, had finalized orders for 60 aircraft in its portfolio.

“777 is in discussions with ATR on an additional opportunity that includes aircraft, technology and airline services and if firmed up would put the committed aircraft purchase agreements into the triple digits,” the firm said in a statement.

Boeing and ATR were not immediately available for comment.

Earlier this year, Air India placed an order for 470 jets with Boeing and Airbus SE – which was later eclipsed by rival IndiGo’s order for 500 Airbus planes.

Wander said the company is also looking at investments in Asia and South America and is close to striking a deal to invest in a South African carrier, whose name he did not disclose.

777’s business model involves buying jets and leasing them to airlines which it backs, such as Canadian low-cost carrier Flair Airlines and Australian airline Bonza.

Flair had four aircraft seized in March as a result of a commercial dispute with a New-York based hedge fund and aircraft lessor Airborne Capital Ltd; the matter is now in court.

(Reporting by Abhijith Ganapavaram in Bengaluru; Editing by Pooja Desai)

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