Re­struc­tur­ing ap­proved in £444m Bris­tow deal

Avi­a­tion: Multi-mil­lion-pound agree­ment will take firm out of bank­ruptcy

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - BUSINESS - BY ALLISTER THOMAS

Be­lea­guered he­li­copter op­er­a­tor Bris­tow has gained ap­proval for a re­struc­tur­ing deal which will in­ject £444 mil­lion into the com­pany and pull it out of bank­ruptcy.

The US-head­quar­tered firm, which has a size­able UK North Sea op­er­a­tion, filed for Chap­ter 11 bank­ruptcy in May.

It has now re­ceived court ap­proval for the deal which will see it “suc­cess­fully emerge” from the process by Oc­to­ber 31 as a “stronger, well cap­i­talised global or­gan­i­sa­tion”.

The move will hand

“We will emerge a stronger, well cap­i­talised global or­gan­i­sa­tion”

ma­jor­ity own­er­ship to the af­fil­i­ates of So­lus Al­ter­na­tive As­set Man­age­ment LP, South Dakota In­vest­ment Coun­cil, Empyrean Cap­i­tal Part­ners, LP, Bain Cap­i­tal Credit and Oak Hill Ad­vi­sors, who are ex­pected to own more than 50%.

When the re­or­gan­i­sa­tion plan was sub­mit­ted in Au­gust, Bris­tow said it would emerge with “sig­nif­i­cantly lower debt lev­els”, which stood at £1.1bn ac­cord­ing to its last set of ac­counts.

The Chap­ter 11 process lets firms con­tinue trad­ing while pay­ing off debts, a method also taken by oil­field ser­vices firm Ex­pro in De­cem­ber 2017.

An­other he­li­copter firm, CHC, filed for Chap­ter 11 bank­ruptcy in 2016 which it man­aged to sur­vive thanks to fi­nan­cial re­struc­tur­ing.

Bris­tow chief ex­ec­u­tive Don Miller said: “Achiev­ing Plan con­fir­ma­tion is an im­por­tant milestone that comes less than five months af­ter we ini­tially filed Chap­ter 11.

“As a re­or­gan­ised com­pany, we will emerge a stronger, well cap­i­talised global or­gan­i­sa­tion with an in­dus­try-lead­ing bal­ance sheet and strong liq­uid­ity.

“I com­mend the en­tire global Bris­tow or­gan­i­sa­tion for work­ing dili­gently to nav­i­gate the re­struc­tur­ing process while fly­ing safely and con­tin­u­ing to pro­vide ex­cep­tional client service.

“I also ex­press my grat­i­tude to our clients for their con­tin­u­ing con­fi­dence in Bris­tow dur­ing this process.

“We look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing to work with our new own­ers, who have been very sup­port­ive of our global team and greatly value our mar­ket lead­ing po­si­tion.”

The Hous­ton head quar­tered firm has around 900 em­ploy­ees in the UK, op­er­at­ing North Sea oil and gas trans­porta­tion and search and res­cue op­er­a­tions.

Bris­tow’s fleet sup­ports op­er­a­tions in the North Sea, Nige­ria and the US Gulf of Mex­ico, along with other re­gions in­clud­ing Aus­tralia, Brazil, Canada, Guyana and Trinidad.

Con­cerns were first raised back in Fe­bru­ary when it an­nounced there were “ma­te­rial weak­nesses” in Bris­tow’s fi­nan­cial re­port­ing and that its full year results end­ing March 31 last year “should no longer be re­lied upon”.

An­a­lyst firm Glob­alData said the firm’s chal­lenges stem from the oil price crash of 2015, with he­li­copter trans­port gen­er­ally be­ing “overly re­liant” on off­shore drilling, which has learned to save money and will not re­vert to pre-down­turn spend­ing.

TAK­ING OFF: The Hous­ton-head­quar­tered com­pany em­ploys around 900 peo­ple in the UK in North Sea trans­porta­tion and search and res­cue

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