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Oaktree takes another shot at Westchester Airport P3

After legislators scrapped a lease plan last fall, Oaktree has joined with Connor Capital to form HPN Aviation Group in response to the county’s RFP.

Oaktree Capital Management and Connor Capital have formed a group looking to run Westchester County Airport, which the county is looking to lease out in a public-private partnership.

Oaktree, which saw its bid to run the airport stymied last fall by the county’s Board of Legislators, joined with Connor to form HPN Aviation Group. A request for proposals for the airport was released last week, and HPN plans to submit a bid.

In November, County Executive Rob Astorino announced a planned deal with Oaktree that would see the firm deliver a $130 million upfront payment and receive a 40-year lease to run the airport under a revenue sharing agreement. But legislators rejected the plan and instead initiated a bidding process for the asset. Bids are due in July.

HPN’s board of directors is chaired by Thomas Bosco, the former aviation director for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, with former JetBlue CEO David Barger also serving on the board.

“I am hopeful and confident that when the Board of Legislators and the taxpayers get a clear picture of the benefits of this programme, the Board of Legislators will approve this programme,” Bosco told Infrastructure Investor. Financial details of HPN’s proposal were not released.

Michael Kaplowitz, the chairman of the Board of Legislators, said the board rejected the previous proposal because legislators did not know how to evaluate it without a competitive bidding process.

“We have a good number of initial inquiries, and we are hopeful that there will be a basket full of bids” this time, Kaplowitz told Infrastructure Investor. “We are confident that we are going to put our best foot forward and see what the marketplace tells us.”

The P3 plan seeks to take advantage of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Privatisation Pilot Program, which allowed for small to mid-sized airports to be run as P3s. Located just outside New York City, the airport served 1.75 million passengers in 2012.