Exclusive: CHC to sell Babcock North Sea helicopter business to ... - Energy Voice

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CHC has announced it volition merchantability the erstwhile Babcock North Sea chopper concern to South African steadfast Ultimate Aviation Group.

The deal, expected to implicit successful Q1 of this year, comes aft the UK contention watchdog ordered the sale of the Babcock (LON: BAB) concern – which CHC acquired successful September 2021 – arguing it would “significantly trim rivalry” successful the North Sea.

CHC said the merchantability and acquisition statement was signed successful December, but needs to beryllium cleared by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

Chief enforcement David Balevic said: “While we stay disappointed with the CMA’s determination and judge it was based connected respective cardinal misconceptions, we are gladsome to beryllium adjacent to completing this process done the merchantability of Offshore Helicopter Services UK (OHS UK )to Ultimate Aviation.

“CHC’s talented squad volition proceed to present outstanding levels of work and safety, prime and innovation, done our existing UK business.”

According to its website, Ultimate Aviation Group has operations successful South Africa and Madrid.

The steadfast offers cargo transport, chopper services for the lipid and state manufacture and commercialized flights.

On the 1st of December past twelvemonth a steadfast listed nether the sanction Ultimate Aviation Group UK, incorporated connected Company House,  listing Mr Shaun Bradley, a South African native, arsenic its director.

© Supplied by Wullie Marr / DC Tho

Harry Bos, UK Operations Director CHC.

The divestment to Ultimate Aviation Group covers the UK limb of Babcock – present known arsenic Offshore Aviation UK – which arsenic of past twelvemonth employed astir 500 people.

In a caller speech with Energy Voice, precocious appointed UK Operations Director for CHC, Harry Bos, said: “Of course, the determination of the CMA was disappointing, but it is the determination we are surviving with.

“We are moving connected with the bits of Babcock that we person successful Denmark and Australia and with our existent squad and our existent portfolio.”

’22 months of uncertainty’

Director of consultancy Air & Sea Analytics, Steve Robertson, said: “This does astatine slightest bring to a closure a play of 22 months of uncertainty and everyone progressive tin determination connected but it does besides rise a batch of questions astir the relation of the CMA successful these markets and the ground connected which involution is taken.

“This is simply a marketplace with precise ample end-customers that tin exert important bargaining powerfulness and person intelligibly done truthful precise good successful the past decade.

“Quite wherefore the CMA saw acceptable to intervene successful the marketplace successful the interests of lipid companies that were perfectly susceptible of encouraging caller entrants (as we subsequently saw with Perenco) remains a enigma to galore successful the offshore aviation business.

“CHC’s archetypal woody announced successful March 2021 was an effort to instrumentality the marketplace person to equilibrium and what the CMA person achieved done their involution is the nonstop opposite.”

The Texas-headquartered steadfast long argued against the CMA’s ruling, warring its decision implicit a deficiency of contention successful the struggling North Sea chopper market.

In September 2021 CHC purchased Babcock’s Aberdeen-headquartered lipid and state aviation concern for the sum of £10 million.

© Supplied by Wullie Marr / DC Tho

CHC helicopters astatine the firm’s Dyce hanger

Following the deal, it was reported that the North Sea chopper relation made pre-tax losses of £383m the aforesaid twelvemonth it was bought implicit by CHC.

The CMA launched an probe into the acquisition and recovered that the woody would “significantly trim rivalry” successful the North Sea chopper market.

This prompted the CMA to request that CHCC merchantability the formerly Babcock-owned chopper services company.

The CMA has said that “any updates volition beryllium made connected our case page.”

Mr Robertson added: “According to the IOGP Aviation Sub-Committee information announcement published successful October 2022 the manufacture is seeing ‘significant further unit connected our aviation proviso concatenation and its information captious personnel’ with the effect being ‘a wide summation successful accidents and superior incidents’.

“You person to inquire however acold the marketplace is consenting to spell successful exerting further unit connected the proviso concatenation and to what grade ill-advised authorities involution volition worsen the situation?”