British aviation and energy company Esken has announced that it is finalising a deal to sell a 30% stake in London Southend Airport (LSA) to a US-based equity firm for $168m (£120m).

Esken, which was formerly known as Stobart Group, responded to speculation over a potential strategic partnership for the Essex airport.

In a statement, Esken said: “The group confirms that it is in the final stages of agreeing on the documentation with Carlyle Global Infrastructure Opportunity Fund with regards to a long term strategic funding transaction relating to the development of LSA.

“Under the proposed terms of the partnership, Carlyle would provide £120 million of funding net of Carlyle costs via a loan, convertible at Carlyle’s option into an equity stake of 29.99% in LSA, which would release £100 million of liquidity into the rest of the group.”

The company said that the transaction will be subject to a number of conditions, including Esken obtaining shareholder approval.

It further added that there is no guarantee at this stage that the transaction will be completed.

Esken is said to have engaged in discussions with a strategic financial partner over the past nine months for the development of LSA after the aviation industry showed signs of recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The company noted that its strategic partner has been investing in the airport sector globally and plans to deploy their team at LSA through the Covid-19 recovery phase.

Prior to the pandemic, London Southend Airport served more than 40 destinations.

In April, London Southend Airport received an order from the Upper Tribunal’s Lands Chamber to reimburse the owners of neighbouring houses over the noise produced by a runway extension.