Deal reached to sell Great Slave Helicopters, documents confirm
Yellowknife-based Great Slave Helicopters (GSH) has found a buyer, court documents filed in Ontario on Friday confirm.
An independent monitor overseeing proceedings said the sale would preserve "a substantial number" of jobs at GSH, while ensuring the "ongoing provision" of the company's services in the NWT.
The struggling helicopter company, which employs roughly 200 people, has been under creditor protection since September. Filings revealed it had been losing more than $5 million annually for years.
The monitor, financial group KSV Kofman, stated an agreement was reached last week "to purchase substantially all of the company’s business and assets and assume certain liabilities."
The buyer is a numbered company operated by Pat Campling Jr, an experienced Saskatchewan aviation entrepreneur.
Court documents made public on Friday list 11088211 Canada Corp, with Campling as president, as the buyer.
Campling is the founder of Trans West Air and served as interim chief executive of Saskatchewan-based group West Wind Aviation earlier this year, departing that role last month.
Al Martin, the president of Great Slave Helicopters, had earlier blamed the company's troubles on a slowdown in the oil, gas and mining sectors, alongside high maintenance costs and less global demand for charter helicopters.
Bid was 'highest received'
In a short phone call on Friday, Martin confirmed a sale had been agreed and noted the buyer is not West Wind Aviation, as had been earlier reported elsewhere.
However, he could not provide any more information on Campling's numbered company and was unable to confirm any other details of the deal.
Cabin Radio has contacted Campling for comment on the transaction and his company's plans.
KSV said 29 bids had been received for Great Slave Helicopters. The value of Campling's bid was not specified – KSV said it was the highest received and "exceeds, by far, the liquidation value of the company's business and assets."
In recommending the court approve the purchase, KSV added: "The transaction is expected to preserve employment for a substantial number of the company's employees, whereas the alternative, liquidation, would result in the loss of all employment.
"The transaction provides for the ongoing provision of helicopter services in remote areas of northern Canada."
KSV's report claimed Great Slave was on the brink of going under unless the transaction was "completed imminently."
The sale is expected to be finalized next week. Documents suggest Campling is receiving financing for the deal from Clairvest, a private equity firm also listed as one of Great Slave Helicopters's major creditors.
Campling's firm will assume responsibility for 86 existing contracts and 24 operational aircraft, documents on the monitor's website stated, alongside various items of Great Slave Helicopters' intellectual property and real estate.
Great Slave Helicopters was formerly a subsidiary of Discovery Air, which entered into its own creditor protection agreement earlier in the year.