On Friday, Swedish private equity and real assets investor EQT announced that its second infrastructure fund, Infrastructure II, will sell Unilode Aviation Services, a global leader in aviation equipment leasing, to Basalt Infrastructure Partners, an independent, mid-market transatlantic infrastructure investment firm. Price and other deal terms were not made public.
Headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, Unilode Aviation Solutions owns and manages a fleet of 145,000 Unit Load Devices (ULD) that are provided under long-term, full-service leasing agreements to airlines and cargo carriers. ULDs are mission critical containers and pallets used for the transportation of baggage and cargo on aircraft.
Unilode also operates a global network of around 50 service centers that provide infrastructure servicing solutions for ULDs and galley carts. These ULDs are equipped with multi-sensor Bluetooth tags combined with a global interoperable reader infrastructure.
EQT Infrastructure acquired CHEP Aerospace Solutions from global supply-chain logistics provider Brambles in 2016. Following a corporate carve-out and rebranding to Unilode, EQT Infrastructure executed a transformation which allowed Unilode to achieve a 100 percent renewal rate in full-service leasing while broadening new customer acquisitions.
Under EQT’s ownership, Unilode has also expanded its global footprint and opened new service centers in Europe, the Americas and Asia Pacific. The company ventured into adjacent areas by introducing a short-term leasing offering in 2019 as natural extension and growth complement to its core product offering. With the support of EQT’s in-house Digital Team, Unilode currently operates the world’s largest IoT-enabled ULD fleet.
“Unilode is a great example of EQT’s value creation strategy,” EQT Infrastructure Advisory Team Partner Ulrich Köllensperger said. “Unilode’s growth story is underpinned by strong megatrends such as the sharing economy and digitization and the mission criticality of its offering has been proven during Covid-19 when the business has shown strong resilience.”
“I joined Unilode because I shared the vision of EQT to create the undisputed global market leader in ULD management,” Unilode CEO Benoit Dumont added. “Under EQT’s ownership, we have significantly scaled the business, expanded our customer base and product offering and introduced an award-winning digital solution providing unprecedented insights and visibility for the air cargo supply chain. I see substantial further growth potential in the years to come driven by a new outsourcing wave currently emerging and supported by our pooling synergies and state-of-the art digital infrastructure.”
Last month, Unilode extended its existing ULD management partnerships with key airline partners, re-upping with Latin America’s LATAM Airlines Group for an additional seven-year term until 2028, and with Scandinavia’s SAS Cargo for another five-year term until 2026.
The EQT-Basalt transaction is expected to close during Q3 2021.