Blackstone invests in two Maldivian seaplane operators

US alternative asset manager The Blackstone Group LP (NYSE:BX) has become a controlling shareholder in Maldivian Air Taxi (MAT) and Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA).

Blackstone did not say how much it had paid for the majority stakes in the two Maldivian seaplane operators. The buyer employed the advisory services of Deutsche Bank AG (ETR:DBK) and HSBC Holdings Plc (LON:HSBA), while the vendors relied on counsel from Churchill Capital Ltd and Northern Lights.

MAT founder Lars Erik Nielsen and TMA’s former majority shareholders Lars Petre and Hussain Afeef will remain in possession of sizeable stakes and will continue to be involved with the business. The trio will get board seats at the combined entity, Blackstone added.

Blackstone senior managing director Prakash Melwani stated that the investment underscored his company’s ongoing commitment to the travel and tourism sectors. Over the past decade, Maldives has emerged as an extremely attractive holiday destination and the combination of MAT and TMA will create a business that will take the local tourist industry to new heights, Melwani added.

According to the statement, TMA is the oldest Maldivian air services provider, while MAT is the world’s top seaplane operator. The combined company will have a workforce of more than 900 and a fleet of 44 seaplanes, undertaking more than 100,000 flights a year.

Blackstone to acquire Intertrust from Dutch sponsor Waterland

US buyout firm The Blackstone Group LP (NYSE:BX) has entered into an agreement to acquire trust and corporate services provider Intertrust Group Holding SA from Dutch investor Waterland Private Equity Investments BV, the target said on its website.

Intertrust did not unveil the value of the transaction, but Dutch daily Het Financieele Dagblad reported it may be around EUR675m (USD883m). The sum is equal to nine times Intertrust’s gross operating profit of EUR75m.

The transaction is scheduled for completion in the coming months once the parties secure the needed regulatory nods.

Intertrust said it expects to receive many opportunities to extend its service offering. The company’s head office is located in Geneva, Switzerland, while its largest operational office is in the Netherlands.

Private equity firms in talks to acquire RBS’ Direct Line

Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc (LON:RBS) may not get to list its unit Direct Line Insurance Plc as two consortia made up of leading private equity groups prepare to make a move on the business, the Sunday Times reported citing City sources.

RBS has been instructed by European Union regulators to sell Direct Line as compensation for its state-sponsored rescue in 2008. The UK lender is planning to float 30% of the business in September and has lined up 11 investment banks to assist with the process, with Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:GS), Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) and UBS AG (NYSE:UBS) assigned leading roles in the undertaking.

RBS is expected to file the required documents with the London Stock Exchange next month, the newspaper added.

However, the two private equity consortia are preparing to make their move at the end of July, potentially thwarting RBS’ plans. One of the groups comprises US private equity giants Blackstone Group LP (NYSE:BX) and Bain Capital LLC, while the rival bidding combo is made up of KKR & Co LP (NYSE:KKR) and UK-based Apax Partners Holdings Ltd and BC Partners Limited, the Sunday Times was told.

Direct Line, the company behind brands such as Churchill and Green Flag, is the number one UK car insurer in terms of policy numbers and the top home insurance provider, the article went on to add.

It has long been coveted by rival sector players and private equity groups although RBS’ attempt to offload the business in 2008 proved unsuccessful as bidders failed to match the asking price of GBP7bn (USD10.9bn/EUR8.9bn).

BC Partners also featured among the bidders then, joining forces with Apollo Global Management LLC (NYSE:APO). The auction also attracted US billionaire investor Warren Buffett and a consortium made up of CVC Capital Partners Limited and insurance group Swiss Re (PINK:SSREY).

Direct Line’s valuation has shrunk significantly since then although the company reversed its heavy 2010 losses to exit last year with profits of GBP454m, the Sunday Times said.