Seabury: Best Aviation M&A Advisory Team Global 2015


Fuel price volatility, global booms or busts, and other major events regularly force the airline industry to adapt its business model in order to stay aloft. Helping airlines face the many challenges, and the sequential changes they impose, is Seabury – an integrated banking and consulting firm set up to provide a full range of services to airlines seeking to navigate turbulent skies.

Founded in 1995 and headquartered in New York City, Seabury offers comprehensive advice and solutions, carefully tailored to each client’s unique needs by a staff of over 175 professionals – mostly former airlines execs, bankers, and other experts – who know the industry inside out and are not above dispensing tough love when needed. Seabury’s expertise is called upon for corporate restructuring and recovery operations, management consulting, process optimisation, and a host of other jobs that offer support to aviation companies.

Rather than proposing short-haul fixes, Seabury’s approach is designed to enable airlines to survive, and prosper, over the long-term. The firm finds ways to improve efficiencies by looking at all aspects of an airline, including its network design, fleet composition, catering, and any ancillary businesses. Thus in 2007, the firm was called in by South African Airlines (SAA) to revamp its operations and return the long-ailing company to profitability.

Whereas SAA had previously tried its luck with other consultants, the short-term patchwork solutions offered did not succeed to implement the lasting turnaround needed. When Seabury was brought in, the firm quickly took hold of SAA’s reins and instituted draconian measures to conserve cash and increase efficiency. As a result of the intervention, SAA did not run out of money and, now properly streamlined, managed to find its way back to profitability. The speed and precision with which the turnaround was executed received wide acclaim.

The judging panel noted that Seabury is more than just a trouble shooter: the firm also helps airlines secure the best possible deals with manufacturers as it did when United was ready to replace its ageing fleet of Boeing 767s and 747s. Hedging the operation, Seabury skilfully managed to coax both Boeing and Airbus on board, thus ensuring United Airlines received the best possible deal.

The judges attach great importance to Seabury’s relentless pursuit of operational excellence by leveraging the expertise of a highly experienced team of aviation professionals. Considering their all-inclusive approach, the judges wonder why this particular wheel was not invented earlier. Indeed, the firm’s success and global reach seem to have even surpassed the expectations of its founding partner John Luth who first conceived of an integrated aviation advisory firm with both investment banking and consulting capability. The judges are therefore exceptionally pleased to confer on Seabury the Best Aviation M&A Team Global 2015.

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