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Actera Group explores strategic options for Celebi Ground Handling

Turkish sponsor Actera Group is exploring strategic options for its listed ground-handling company Celebi Ground Handling [IST:CLEBI], with a dual-track process on the cards, three sources familiar with the situation told this news service.

Alternatives other than an outright sale include a secondary public offering (SPO) through an accelerated book building (ABB), two of the sources said.

The company last year attracted investor interest from several bidders including the ones from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region, however, talks didn’t proceed due to a valuation gap, the sources said.

The vendors prefer an outright sale, an Istanbul-based advisor said, adding that an SPO could be a low-probability option. With a potential valuation above USD 1bn, the opportunity is more interesting for international strategics than for local players, he added.

The potential bidders could also be from Europe and the US, one of the sources said. The company has operations in five countries mainly with hard-currency income, which could attract global investors’ interest, he added.

Many GCC investors like Abu Dhabi-based ADQ and others have conducted due diligence with Turkish companies before the general elections in May in Turkey, a banker in Istanbul said. They were waiting to see the poll results to take steps and now they could act more boldly with their investment plans, he added.

PIF, the Saudi wealth fund, or Swissport could be other potential bidders, another banker tipped. However, he said, the Saudi government should first give a green light for investments into Turkey.

ADQ, PIF and Swissport did not respond to requests for comment.

Celebi has a Likely To Exit (LTE)* score of 42, based on Mergermarket’s predictive algorithm.

Actera acquired 50% stake in Celebi Havacilik Holding in February 2013 for a total consideration of USD 144m through the Netherlands-based acquisition vehicle Zeus Aviation Services Investments B.V..

Celebi Havacilik Holding holds an 89.91% stake in the ground handling company, which is jointly controlled by the Celebioglu Family and Zeus Aviation Services, as per company records.

The company has a market capitalisation of TRY 20.5bn (around USD 770m) and its shares are traded at TRY 819.80. It posted revenues of TRY 6bn in 2022 and an EBITDA of TRY 2bn, as per company records.

Established in 1958 as the first private ground-handling company of Turkish air transport, Celebi has been listed on Borsa Istanbul (BIST) since 1996 with 10.09% of its shares being publicly traded.

Celebi provides ground handling services (representation, traffic, ramp, cargo, flight operation, aircraft maintenance and etc.), cargo, warehouse services and general aviation services to domestic and foreign airlines and private cargo companies.

The company has operations at more than 40 airports in Turkey, Germany, Hungary, India and Tanzania, employing more than 13,000 people.

Actera and Celebi didn’t respond to requests for comment.

by Erdinc Ergenc in Istanbul and Murat Basboga in London

*Mergermarket’s LTE predictive analytics assign a score to sponsor-backed companies to help track and predict when an exit could occur through M&A, an IPO, a direct listing or a deSPAC transaction.