Mobeus Equity Partners has closed its first exit since it rebranded in 2012 and offloaded a business which it says has been operating in a ‘deteriorating trading environment’.
British International Helicopter Services (BIH) has been sold to trade buyer Patriot Aerospace Group by its private equity backer.
Mobeus Equity Partner first backed BIH through a management buy-out (MBO) in 2006 when the firm was called Matrix Private Equity Partners (before a 2012 rebranding).
BIH was formed in May 2000 with the backing of 3i and the Bank of Scotland through a management buy-in of non-oil related operations of Scotia Helicopters and Canadian Helicopter Corporation (CHC). It was established to operate a mixed fleet of helicopters to serve the civilian and military markets in the UK and overseas.
The deal, which saw investment firm 3i exit, resulted in Mobeus taking control of a business which held ‘long-term’ Royal Navy and Ministry of Defence contracts out of several locations in the UK and Falkland Islands.
Mobeus describes the disposal as the latest phase of an asset disposal process and says that the sale has netted a return of £6 million to Mobeus advised VCTs – a 2x multiple on its original investment.
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Mike Walker, partner at Mobeus, comments, ‘BIH is an excellent example of a committed management team reacting to a deteriorating trading environment, adapting its strategy and working extremely hard to produce an outcome which has delivered a good return to stakeholders and preserved employment in a sale to a significant UK operator.’
Over the course of its seven-year ownership, Mobeus reveals that BIH has faced ‘challenging economic conditions’ relating to a ‘continuous’ decline in passenger numbers on its service between Penzance and the Isles of Scilly.
A change of strategy by management was implemented in an effort to preserve value and its staff, and the business disposed of its long-term contracts and closed its Isles of Scilly route and Penzance heliport.