Ardian picks up Belgium helicopter group

The investment in NHV Group comes roughly three months after Ardian closed its LBO Fund V on €2.41bn.

Ardian, a French firm formerly known as AXA Private Equity, has acquired a majority stake in NHV Group (NHV), a Belgium-based helicopter transport services group.

Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed. Ardian fought off competition from rival buyout groups Apax Partners and Eurazeo, according to Belgium newspaper reports.

Ardian declined to comment beyond the statement.

NHV Group, which is based in Ostend, operates in sectors including oil and gas, helicopter emergency medical services, maritime services, offshore wind farms and harbor pilot services. The business has a fleet of 28 helicopters and 360 employees across 15 bases on three continents. In 2013, NHV’s expected turnover is close to €90 million, which would be 34 percent organic growth compared to 2012, Ardian said in the statement.

Ardian aims to further accelerate NHV’s international footprint through add-on acquisitions and ongoing investment in the extension and the constant upgrading of the fleet.

NHV operates in a “growing niche market, has real potential for further considerable international growth both in its currently serviced markets, but also in new markets”, Béatrice Beitmann, managing director of mid-market market enterprise capital at Ardian, said in a statement, adding that Ardian will provide NHV with “all the necessary resources to support the company’s ambitious development plans”.

Ardian made the investment using its LBO Fund V, a 2012 vintage vehicle which closed on €2.41 billion in October. It also raised €400 million for co-investments. Including the investment in NHV, Ardian has made six investments from the fund, which is understood to be about 35 percent deployed.