Pre-tax profits drop at O’Brien’s aircraft firm

PRE-TAX profits at Denis O’Brien’s Dublin-based aircraft leasing company Aergo Capital Ltd dropped by 69% to $2.6 million (€1.9m) last year.

The company and subsidiaries sustained the drop in profits in spite of revenues increasing threefold from $49.2m in 2008 to $150.6m to the end of December last.

According to the directors, they “are satisfied with the level of business and year end financial position”.

The accounts show the group’s profits were hit last year by the business incurring foreign exchange losses of $25.7m and the directors state that, before the foreign exchange losses are taken into account, the company’s after-tax profits would have been $27.2m.

The foreign exchange losses arose mainly from Aergo’s purchase of the South African-based Safair businesses in December 2008. The directors state that the group had a significant exposure to foreign currency, as a substantial portion of its interest-bearing debt was in South African Rand.

Last month, Aergo Capital concluded the sale of its interest in Safair to a Dublin-based company ASL Aviation. This involved the sale of about $250 million of assets, including Safair, 13 jet aircraft and a 28% stake in maintenance associate Jetworx.

It is understood that ASL paid less than $100m to buy the business in an all-cash transaction. It also assumed the liabilities attached to the aircraft.

The Aergo accounts show that Aergo acquired Safair in December 2008 for $80m in cash.

Aergo Capital Ltd’s accounts show that the Safair Group recorded pre-tax profits of $6.5m for 2009.

The figures from the sale will be recorded in Aergo’s 2010 returns.

The figures for 2009 show that the company recorded operating profits of $407,000 compared with an operating profit of $8.7m in 2008.

The filings show that investment and interest income of $2.2m boosted the company’s profits last year to $2.6m.

The accounts include depreciation charges of $32.7m last year.

A breakdown of the company’s turnover shows that 78%, or $109m, of its lease income was in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

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