Investors weigh sale of TMA valued between $500 mln to $700 mln

A group of investors led by Carlyle Group Inc. is considering a sale of Trans Maldivian Airways that could value the world’s largest seaplane operator at as much as $700 million, according to people familiar with the matter.

Carlyle and co-investors King Street Capital Management and Davidson Kempner Capital Management have held initial talks with potential advisers for the divestment of TMA, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. A transaction may value the Maldives-based seaplane operator at $500 million to $700 million, the people said.

Other firms in the industry and investment funds have shown preliminary interest in acquiring the business, the people said. Considerations are ongoing, no final decision has been made and the owners could still decide to retain the asset for longer, the people said.

Representatives for Carlyle, King Street and Davidson Kempner declined to comment.

Founded in 1989 with a helicopter fleet, TMA is the oldest air services provider in the Maldives and has since expanded into the world’s biggest seaplane operator, according to its website. The company provides transfer services from the Maldives’s main international airport to more than 80 island resorts across the country, flying over 1 million passengers each year.

TMA has been in the hands of private equity firms in recent years. Bain Capital and Chinese conglomerate Tempus Group Co., bought control from Blackstone Inc. in 2017, the airline’s website shows. Carlyle became TMA’s majority owner last year after leading a debt restructuring deal, along with King Street and Davidson Kempner.