News releases on September 4, 2012, announced that Bristow Group Inc. was to purchase a minority stake in Cougar Helicopters. The investment figure announced was $250 million, which included the purchase of eight Sikorsky S-92 helicopters as well as facilities located in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, Canada. By October 4, 2012, the deal was closed.
Bristow will lease its purchased helicopters back to Cougar, and Cougar’s Kenneth Norie will continue his role as CEO and chairman. Cougar’s general manager in St. John’s, NL, Hank Williams, sees “only positive outcomes as a result of partnering with one of the industry’s leaders in helicopter transport.” He states, “With Bristow acquiring a minority interest, it will be operations as usual at Cougar Helicopters. Being partnered with Bristow does allow Cougar to have deeper access to additional aircraft and resources. Also, the ability to share the best practices between our two companies can only enhance both our operations.”
William Chiles, president and CEO of Bristow, explains that the investment is in alignment with Bristow’s vision. “Our vision is simple and straightforward: to become one global team setting the standard for excellence, growing, and succeeding together while soaring above the competition. Our investment in Cougar meets all of those criteria—we are aligned on service excellence; we are growing our business and building Bristow’s strategic advantage in the marketplace. Cougar has been ‘soaring above the competition’ for years.”
Bristow Group Inc. (www.bristowgroup.com) was the first civil helicopter transport company to work in the oil and gas sector. Fifty years ago, the company began providing helicopter services to the Gulf of Mexico through Air Logistics, which focused on servicing offshore projects in the oil and gas industry. Investing in U.K. Bristow Helicopters Ltd. expanded operations internationally. It is now the world’s leading offshore energy helicopter service provider. It transports drilling and production crews offshore in the U.S., Gulf of Mexico, the North Sea, and in most of the other major offshore oil-and-gas-producing regions of the world, including Alaska, Australia, Brazil, Nigeria, Russia, and Trinidad.
Bristow also provides search and rescue (SAR) services and has rescued more than 7,000 people in the U.K. alone. Its industry-leading program, Target Zero, fosters a safety culture and has resulted in Bristow achieving the industry’s best safety record. The Target Zero program includes Target Zero Accidents, Target Zero Downtime, and Target Zero Complaints (http://www.bristowgroup.com/clients/target-zero/). The Target Zero program also includes zero harm to the environment. With above industry average compliance rates, Bristow aims to reduce its carbon footprint and has implemented several initiatives to achieve this. Bristow demonstrates its value of safety not only internally, but through its Corporate Social Responsibility program, Bristow Uplift. Its intention is to make social investments, build community relationships, and create long-term value for business.
Chiles emphasizes Bristow’s commitment to safety and the alignment to Cougar’s safety pledge. “Bristow’s commitment to Target Zero safety is our first Core Value, and nothing we do will ever have a higher priority. We have worked with Cougar previously and find them to be an exceptional operator. I believe we are culturally and operationally aligned when it comes to safety, quality, and service. Bristow has achieved an industry-leading safety record by setting the highest standards and relying on dedicated teams around the world to meet those standards. That’s not going to change.”
In addition to offshore crew transport and SAR, Bristow offers helicopter maintenance and pilot training through Bristow Academy. Bristow’s company values of safety, quality, integrity, fulfillment, teamwork, and profitability are in alignment with Cougar, which eases the adjustment necessary in such an acquisition.
Cougar Helicopters (www.cougar.ca) began its offshore helicopter services in Nova Scotia in 1984 and today transports personnel to offshore locations. It began servicing Newfoundland in 1997 with its first offshore flight to the Hibernia platform. Cougar is now Canada’s largest helicopter service provider for the offshore oil and gas industry in Atlantic Canada and the Arctic, with a secondary role providing search and rescue services to offshore operators. Its parent company, VIH Aviation Group Ltd. (www.vih.com), is a group of privately-held aviation businesses providing general aviation services to Canada since 1955 and internationally since 1986.
Like Bristow, Cougar has a safety focus; its safety management system comprises aviation safety, health safety, and environment management. Its commitment is to the people employed and transported, and is demonstrated by its goal to eliminate hazards that can cause an accident or incident. Williams adds, “Cougar’s vision is, and has always been, to provide safe and efficient service to our customers. Partnering with an industry leader like Bristow will no doubt enhance these services. It is very evident that Cougar Helicopters and Bristow share similar corporate values and our focus on safety.”
This investment meets Bristow’s mission to expand business and extend horizons. Bristow now has a significantly larger fleet in its North American Business Unit and greater access to oil and gas opportunities in a growth market. Chiles says, “Our investment in Cougar fits our growth strategy because we gain a strong foothold in the fast-growing Canadian exploration and production market. The fleet is a perfect fit for Bristow; we have the same core values, and the transaction is very accretive to our earnings.”
Bristow is now the world’s leading offshore energy helicopter service provider. It transports drilling and production crews offshore in the United States, Gulf 0f Mexico and The North Sea. Bristow also provides helicopter service in most of the other major offshore oil-and-gas-producing regions of the world, including Alaska, Australia, Brazil, Nigeria, Russia and Trinidad.
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