Why CIT Group Is Flying High on Friday

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Shares of CIT Group Inc. (NYSE: CIT) saw a handy gain early on Friday after the company announced that it will be selling its commercial aircraft leasing business. Specifically, CIT Commercial Air is being sold to Avolon Holdings, which is owned by Bohai Capital Holding, based out of China.

According to the terms of the deal, CIT is selling its Commercial Air business, including its operations, forward order commitments, and as of June 30, 2016, certain assets of $11.1 billion and liabilities of $1.7 billion. The adjusted net assets amount totals $9.4 billion, which Avolon is purchasing for a price of $10.0 billion, representing a premium of 6.7%.

The company has received a “non-objection” from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York for its amended capital plan, subject to the closing of the transaction. The amended capital plan authorizes CIT to return $2.975 billion of common equity to shareholders from the net proceeds of the sale; return up to an additional $0.325 billion of common equity contingent upon the issuance of a similar amount of Tier 1 qualifying preferred stock; and pay common dividends totaling $64 million per year after the transaction is completed, subject to quarterly approval by the CIT board of directors.

The transaction is still subject to receipt of regulatory approvals in the United States, China and other foreign jurisdictions, as well as the approval of Bohai’s shareholders. The transaction is expected to close by the end of the first quarter of 2017.

Ellen R. Alemany, board chair and chief executive of CIT, commented:

The sale of CIT Commercial Air represents an important milestone for CIT and follows an extensive dual-track process that was designed to maximize shareholder value. This transaction will strengthen our balance sheet, simplify our business and enable us to return significant capital to our shareholders. We are making meaningful progress on our strategy to create a leading national middle-market bank. I want to thank all of our employees, and in particular those in Commercial Air, whose solid commitment to building an outstanding franchise over more than 40 years has enabled the success of this transaction.

Excluding Friday’s move, CIT has underperformed the broad markets, with the stock down 7% year to date. Over the past 52 weeks, the stock was down 12%.

Shares of CIT closed on Thursday at $36.40, with a consensus analyst price target of $39.93 and a 52-week trading range of $25.19 to $46.51. Following the announcement, the stock was up nearly 6% at $38.50 in early trading indications Friday.