(l-r) Saavedra Goodwin senior managing and founding partner Damaso Saavedra, senior supervising transactional counsel Allyson Goodwin, and senior transactional counsel Ross Kulberg, in Fort Lauderdale. Courtesy photos

A Fort Lauderdale legal team represented aviation company Sheltair Aviation Services LLLP in borrowing $640 million, which restates an existing loan and adds to it to allow Sheltair to fund growth and facilities improvements.

“They are a very dynamic company. They’ve come a long way,” Damaso Saavedra, one of the lead attorneys, said of Sheltair Aviation. “They are very client-oriented, (and) they look for premium sites at premium airports.”

Saavedra, a founding partner and senior managing counsel at Saavedra-Goodwin, and senior supervising transactional counsel Allyson Goodwin were the lead borrower’s counsel. Senior transactional counsel Ross Kulberg also worked on the deal.

They also were the title agent in Florida and facilitated closings on out-of-state properties on a  transaction that closed Jan. 23.

Sheltair Aviation owns and leases real estate and provides services, including fixed-base operations and hangars, at 22 airports in Florida, Georgia, New York and Colorado. Its Florida operations are at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, Jacksonville International Airport, Orlando Executive Airport and Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport in Panama City, among others, according to its website.

Sheltair caters to private aviation including charter flights.

“If you have a plane … you need gas, you need fuel. You can’t go to where Jet Blue pulls up. You have to go to the private side of an airport. At the private side of an airport, there’s fixed-base operators and Sheltair is one of the top fixed-base operators in the East Coast. If you need fuel, if you need pushback, if your pilot needs rest, if you need mechanical work, if you need to hangar your plane — all those services are performed by Sheltair,” Saavedra said.

Sheltair has 43 subsidiaries for different services and locations, and the companies are the  loan guarantors.

SunTrust Bank was the issuing bank, and participating lenders included Capital One, BankUnited, TD Bank, BB&T, Fifth Third Bank, Synovus Bank, Regions Bank and Centennial Bank, according to the Saavedra-Goodwin attorneys.

The financing restated an existing $335 million credit facility with SunTrust and obtained fresh spending power.

“We are opening up $305 million more of borrowing power,” Kulberg said.

The $640 million breaks down to $380 million in revolving credit and $260 million for a term loan.

The transaction also provided for an additional $125 million accordion allowing Sheltair to borrow this amount in the future if it meets certain lending criteria.

Sheltair executives were instrumental in closing the deal, said Saavedra, who has represented the company for 32 years. The law firm also serves as the company’s outside counsel.

“For example, every property needs to be inspected, appraised, insured, leased, explained,” he said. “All that requires thousands and thousands of pages in order to keep the lenders on the business standpoint satisfied that their criteria is being met. That’s much, much harder.”

Sheltair executives who worked on the deal include CEO Jerry Holland, chief operating officer Warren Kroeppel, chief financial officer Ron Roth and senior vice president of real estate and development Todd Anderson.

The lead lender’s counsel was Moore & Van Allen member Charles Harris in Charlotte, North Carolina. The lead tax counsel was Foley & Lardner partner Robert Bernstein in Jacksonville.