Columbia Helicopters acquired by AE Industrial Partners

Columbia Helicopters

Columbia Helicopters

Columbia Helicopters has sold a majority holding in itself to private equity firm AE Industrial Partners, four months after the collapse of its planned sale to Bristow.

Back in November 2018 the ailing heavy lift operator signed an initial definitive agreement with Bristow Group to be acquired for $560 million. Bristow planned to diversify its fleet away from oil and gas operations by acquiring the heavy-lift operator.

That putative acquisition fell through in February this year, the same day Bristow announced the departure of its CEO Johnathan Baliff. Bristow entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March.

Columbia’s current CEO Steve Brandy will remain in his role while the majority owner Nancy Lematta will retain a significant interest in the company. The price and terms of this acquisition – which is expected to close later this year – have not been disclosed.

Mr Brandy said: “This is an exciting new phase of evolution for Columbia. We have always taken pride in our dedicated people and how they deliver inspired solutions to our customers. The new partnership will propel the company’s growth and diversification.

“With AEI’s support and experience, Columbia’s commitment to safety and operational excellence and, above all else, our people—we are positioned for even greater success well into the future.”

When Helicopter Investor contacted Columbia Helicopters and AEI for more information, the companies declined to comment.

AE Industrial Partners is a private-equity firm founded in 1998 that has acquired several aerospace companies, including US cargo airline Alpine Air Express in May this year and commercial aviation asset management business The Aircraft Group in 2016.

Since 2016, the firm has raised about $2 billion – according to Crunchbase figures.

Kirk Konert, principal at AEI said: “Columbia is a clear industry leader with a storied history, offering a unique and differentiated platform, and a strong track record of best-in-class aviation services.

“AEI is excited to support the company, as we believe there is a significant opportunity to build on the capabilities that Columbia has developed over the last 60 years, and expand into new markets and services. With the support of Columbia’s outstanding management team, we look forward to helping the company take the next step in its evolution.”