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Sunday, May 1, 2011

CHL Buys Assets of Helicopters NZ

By Andrew Parker, Senior Editor

Montreal-based Canadian Helicopters Ltd. (CHL) has agreed to purchase Helicopters New Zealand (HNZ), which includes Helicopters Australia, other subsidiaries and Helicopter Nominees Ltd. The deal is valued at NZ$160 million, or around C$120 million (approximately US$126 million).

During an April 13 conference call, CHL President & CEO Don Wall told reporters that the company was interested in Helicopters NZ for a long time, but “they weren’t available.... That situation changed late last year.” CHL began pursuing Helicopters NZ in fourth quarter 2010, with the final arrangement complete in early April, according to Wall. He noted that CHL is “buying the company for its longer term potential,” adding that, “it really does increase our global footprint.” With headquarters in Nelson, HNZ has a fleet of 33 helicopters, consisting of three AgustaWestland AW139s, four Bell 412s, 20 Eurocopter AS350s and six EC130/135/145s. The company—which offers a variety of helicopter services, including for the offshore oil/gas, mining, firefighting and government/defense industries—employs 181 people at 11 bases in New Zealand, Australia, Cambodia and Laos. Wall says HNZ’s “experienced and capable” management team will remain in place. New Zealand is a “long way away,” so it’s important to have local management, local operations and local support in place, he explained.

Canadian Helicopters currently employs 514 people. With the acquisition, the combined entity will number close to 700 employees at 49 locations, operating a fleet of 128 owned and 32 leased helicopters. Revenue for the combined businesses is projected at C$233 million per year. Closing of the deal is anticipated in third quarter 2011, following regulatory approvals from the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority and the Overseas Investment Office.

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