THE Bristow Helicopter Group, whose main operating base is at Aberdeen

airport, is once again a British-owned company after a #155m management

buy-out headed by Bryan Collins, managing director and chief executive,

and jointly arranged and led by Caledonia Investments and Morgan

Grenfell Development Capital. Negotiations culminating in the deal

(which in total amounts to #200m) lasted six months.

For the past year-and-a-half Bristow, the world's leading operator of

twin-engined helicopters, has been Swedish owned. The company's

2000-strong workforce will now be given the opportunity to take an

equity stake in the newly-formed holding company, initially 10% but with

the possibility of that rising to 16%.

Bristow was formerly a subsidiary of British & Commonwealth Holdings,

but was sold as part of the Bricom Group in the #405m 1988 management

buy-out. In July 1990, Bricom was acquired by Rochfield, a company owned

by a group of Scandinavian investors. It was their intention to dispose

of Bristow, which did not form part of their long-term strategic


Currently, Bristow's worldwide operations involve over 200 helicopters

and 40 fixed wing aircraft. As well as its services to the offshore oil

industry, Bristow provides search and rescue services for HM Coastguard

and also the flying training of British army helicopter pilots.

Last year, its profits totalled #24.7m before tax with the company

little touched by the recession because it is largely oil based.

Caledonia Investments, the listed investment company in which the

Cayzer family has a substantial interest, and Morgan Grenfell

Development Capital, through its #145m management buy-out fund Morgan

Grenfell Capital Partners, have each underwritten 45% of the equity of a

new holding company formed to acquire Bristow. Caledonia's total

investment amounts to #33.5m in addition to which it has guaranteed a

#10m loan note issued by the new company. The debt part of the funding

has been arranged by NatWest Acquisition Finance Unit and underwritten

by National Westminster Bank and Bank of Scotland.

The overall #200m financing package, which includes facilities for

future expansion, will finance the buy-out, the acquisition of Air

Service Training, a flying college based in Perth, and provide funds for

a significant capital expenditure programme and associated working


Peter Buckley, chief executive and deputy chairman of Caledonia

Investments, is to be appointed chairman of Bristow's new holding

company and he will be joined by non-executive directors Robert Smith,

Norman Murray, deputy chief executive of Morgan Grenfell Development

Capital, and Jonathan Cartwright, a director of Caledonia Investments.

The executive directors will be Bryan Collins, Alan MacGregor, deputy

chief executive, and Stephen Palframan, finance director.