(Bloomberg) -- The investment firm buying UK football club Everton FC is working to build a global airline portfolio to add to a sprawl of sports and aviation assets from Brazil to Australia.
Miami-based 777 Partners LLC last month bought 10% of South Korean low-cost carrier Eastar Jet Inc. It already owns Australian budget new-entrant Bonza and about 25% of Canada’s ultra-low-cost Flair Airlines Ltd.
In an interview at an aviation conference in Brisbane, 777 Partners’ head of airline investments Manish Raniga said the firm is looking for stakes in carriers in other regions including Europe, South America and the Middle East. The goal is to create a worldwide network of carriers plying domestic and short-haul international routes, he said.
“We would want to see that as part of our DNA,” Raniga said. “We are actively looking for those types of opportunities.”
With a patchwork of airlines serving different markets, 777 Partners — which has ordered some 200 Boeing Co. 737 Max jets — would be able to deploy aircraft where they’re needed most, according to Raniga. Bonza, for instance, is borrowing two planes from Canada’s Flair to meet peak demand over Australia’s summer, he said.
“If we’re able to not just have the right geographical locations, but the ability to match seasonality as well — that would be the ultimate synergy for us,” Raniga said.
777 Partners last week agreed to buy Everton to gain a foothold in the world’s richest football league. Co-led by Steven Pasko and Josh Wander, the US firm is one of the new multi-club owners sweeping world football and has built a portfolio of teams from Belgium to Brazil.
While the sports and aviation investments are run seperately, there are some overlaps. For instance, 777 Partners last year invested in soccer team Melbourne Victory. Bonza is the club’s main sponsor.
Yet buying small chunks of airlines is a risky business. The aviation industry is notorious for its boom-and-bust cycles, and small stakes in carriers come with plenty of financial costs and little strategic control.
Etihad Airways in 2017 abandoned its so-called equity alliance strategy that led to billions of dollars of losses after it invested in struggling airlines around the world in a bid to funnel more passengers into its Abu Dhabi hub.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.