Helicopter group mulls stake sale

BOND Aviation, one of the largest helicopter operators in the UK, is mulling the possibility of selling part of the business to a private equity investor in order to fund its expansion.

Bond, which operates two divisions – Bond Air Services, providing helicopters to the police and ambulance emergency services, and Bond Offshore Helicopters, which supplies the North Sea oil and gas sector – has hired NM Rothschild to advise it on the sale, according to reports over the weekend.

The company is thought to be considering selling between a third and two thirds of the business, in a process that could value Bond at up to £300m. It is currently family owned.

Bond currently has a fleet of 39 helicopters and turned a profit of £15.6m last year.
But it is thought to be interested in a significant expansion to take advantage of demand for both its emergency services and transport machines.

The original Bond family business, founded in the 1960s, was reacquired by Stephen and Peter Bond in 1996, when the brothers bought back a division from Norwegian firm Helikopter Services Group.

Its big break came eight years later, when the offshore unit won a lucrative £120m contract from oil giant BP to provide all of its Scottish helicopter support operations.

The company now also provides aviation transport services to other energy providers operating in the area, including Conoco Phillips and Maersk.

Bond also provides search and rescue helicopters for use in the North Sea area.