Columbia Helicopters Acquired by Texas Company in $560M Blockbuster Deal

Aurora-based Columbia Helicopters, has been acquired by Bristow Group Inc., a Houston, Texas-based corporation that provides industrial aviation services, primarily in the offshore oil and gas industry.

According to a press release, Columbia will be paid a sum of $560 million in a combination of debt, common shares of Bristow stock and cash. Columbia will retain its name, existing management and headquarters in Aurora, and will operate as an unrestricted subsidiary.

“Like Bristow, we have built our business through a commitment to operational excellence that fosters long-term relationships with customers and employees,” Columbia President and CEO Steve Bandy said. “Together with Bristow, we will have an incredible platform to serve our global customer base. On behalf of everyone at Columbia, we are looking forward to partnering with Bristow to redefine the industrial aviation industry.”

Founded by Wes Lematta in 1957, Columbia is a leader in heavy-lift helicopter operations and manufacture, maintenance, repair and overhaul services. It serves clients across the globe in industries that include defense, firefighting, onshore oil and gas, infrastructure and forestry.

Columbia, privately held by the Lematta family and the company’s existing management, reported gross revenues of approximately $281 million in the previous 12 months and earnings of $117 million before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. It operates a fleet of 21 tandem rotor helicopters out of its home airport, Wes Lematta Field at Aurora State Airport.

Bristow’s vision, with Columbia now in the fold, is to create a “global diversified aviation solutions company focused on safe aviation.” Together, the companies now have 304 operating aircraft and an enhanced, geographically diverse customer base.

“The acquisition of Columbia will bring together two premier helicopter companies with a shared commitment to deliver safe lift for our customers,” Thomas N. Amonett, vice chairman of the board and interim president of Bristow, said. “We look forward to the opportunities ahead, as we continue to execute our long-term strategy to diversify our business, expand our addressable market and strengthen our overall financial profile.”

The transaction is expected to be final by the end of the year.

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