KKR to buy stake in Malaysia's Weststar Aviation Services

Reuters

By Yantoultra Ngui and Stephen Aldred

KUALA LUMPUR/HONG KONG, Oct 9 (Reuters) - KKR & Co will buya minority stake in Weststar Aviation Services in a deal thatgives the U.S. private equity firm its first asset in Malaysiaand a piece of a company that arranges helicopter charterflights for the region's oil and gas sector.

KKR and Weststar said in a joint statement that thetwo companies will take part in a signing ceremony on Thursday,though it did not disclose the price of the deal. Peoplefamiliar with the matter said KKR will pay around 650 millionringgit ($203.41 million).

KKR and Weststar declined to comment on the size of thetransaction.

The deal would be KKR's fourth Asia-Pacific investmentannounced in the last three weeks, in which the firm put morethan $1 billion of equity to use, one of the people familiarwith the matter said. The firm recently raised a $6 billion Asiafund, the region's largest ever such fund.

The money spent on KKR's recent flurry of Asia deals comesfrom several funds including the new Asia fund, the person said.

Weststar, controlled by politically connected tycoon SyedAzman Syed Ibrahim, is the largest provider of helicopterservices to oil and gas companies in Southeast Asia, with afleet of more than 40 helicopters.

A separate person familiar with the matter said Weststar isin the early stages of planning an initial public offering,expected to take place early next year.

Weststar's customers include Exxon Mobil Corp and Malaysian state oil group Petronas. In 2011, Weststarwon a 4.2 billion ringgit contract from Petronas.

Weststar is also the fourth-largest operator of theAgustaWestland AW 139 helicopters, which can carry up to 15passengers and travel at high speeds, according to its website.

New York-based KKR, founded in 1976 by cousins Henry Kravisand George Roberts, has announced seven deals in Asia so farthis year, investing in companies in such countries as Vietnam,India, China and Japan.

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