New China Trust pulls out of $4.8 billion AIG unit bid: source

HONG KONG Wed Aug 21, 2013 6:20am EDT

HONG KONG (Reuters) - New China Trust, which was leading a consortium of Chinese investors in a $4.8 billion bid for American International Group Inc's (AIG.N) (AIG) aircraft-leasing unit, pulled out of the deal in May, a person familiar with the situation said.

It was not immediately clear why New China Trust pulled out of the consortium or who would take over its role of lead investor.

A Bloomberg report earlier on Wednesday said New China Trust withdrew from the consortium over concerns that its ties to China's National Development and Reform Commission, which approves major foreign acquisitions, would prompt scrutiny.

New China Trust's chairman was an executive at NDRC's predecessor. NDRC also owned a stake in New China Trust's majority shareholder - but it sold out of that investment more than a year ago.

The Chinese consortium also includes P3 Investments and China Aviation Industrial Fund. It struck a deal with AIG late last year to buy its International Lease Finance Corp unit but has missed three payment deadlines.

AIG said earlier this month that talks with the consortium were ongoing and extended the deal close date to the end of August.

Chief Executive Bob Benmosche also said that AIG was open to pursuing an initial public offering for ILFC if it fails to sell it. AIG also has the option to sell to a different buyer.

ILFC is one of the biggest aircraft lessors in the world but has recorded big write-downs in recent years on the value of the older planes in its fleet. The agreed sale price is roughly half of what AIG once said the business was worth.

Spokesmen for the Chinese consortium and AIG declined comment.

(Reporting by Denny Thomas and Clare Baldwin; Editing by Stephen Coates and Jeremy Laurence)

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