Houston business buys stake in Brazilian helicopter co.

HOUSTON Houston-based Bristow said it agreed to pay $174 million for a 42.5 percent stake in Lider Aviacao Holding SA, which provides helicopter and executive aviation services. At the same time, Bristow sold five aircraft to Lider for $55 million, reducing its net cash outlay to $119 million.

Terms of the agreement include incremental earn-out payments of up to $53 million based on Lider's achievement of growth targets for earnings before income taxes, depreciation and amortization in the next three years.

Lider operates 46 helicopters serving the oil and gas industry, representing about half of the oil and gas market in Brazil.

Its helicopter business is Lider's most profitable segment, with revenues rising at a compounded annual rate of more than 22 percent in the past three years, to $305 million in 2008, Bristow said.

Lider's adjusted earnings before income taxes, depreciation and amortization were $33 million in 2008, Bristow said.

"We view Brazil as the next 'North Sea' in terms of its potential for growth in offshore services requirements," said William E. Chiles, Bristow Group president and CEO.

The acquisition "represents our most attractive entry point into a new market that is a critical part of our long-term growth strategy," he said.

Lider has a strong customer base in the offshore oil and gas industry, including Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Shell Oil Co., Chevron Corp., Norway's StatOilHydro, Spain's Repsol and gas Anadarko Petroleum Corp., Chiles said. Its relationships with these customers provide Bristow with an advantage in Brazil, he said.

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