PE firm American Securities to buy US heliservice firm Air Methods in $2.5-bn deal

Private equity firm American Securities yesterday struck a deal to buy US medical helicopter company Air Methods Corp in a $2.5-billion deal, including debt.

Under the financial terms of the deal, American Securities is offering to pay $43 per share in cash, a premium of about 4 per cent to Air Methods Monday closing price of $42.75.

The deal value is around $1.57 billion based on Air Methods outstanding shares, while the remaining $93 million is debt.

Activist hedge fund Voce Capital Management, which holds 2.86 per cent stake in Air Methods, had earlier criticized the company's board for offering ''no credible plan'' to boost its stock price, and last month managed to get four of its nominees elected to the Air Methods board.

"This agreement will deliver certain and immediate cash value and a compelling premium to our stock price prior to press speculation for our shareholders," said David Kikumoto, chairman of Air Methods.

Air Methods is the largest air medical transport provider in the $5-billion US air medical market, serving 48 states with over 300 bases of operations and one of the youngest fleets in the industry.

It has more than 4,500 employees and a fleet of 500 helicopters and airplanes.

Founded by Roy Morgan and began air medical operations in 1980, Air Methods provides emergency medical services to 100,000 patients every year.

Its United Rotorcraft division designs and manufactures aeromedical and aerospace technology, while its Tourism Division comprises Sundance Helicopters, Inc. and Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, which provide helicopter tours and charter flights in the Las Vegas/Grand Canyon region and Hawaii, respectively.

In the third quarter, the Colorado-based company posted revenues of $311 million, profit of $81.8 million, a 22 per cent decline from the year-earlier period.

The deal is expected to close by the end of June.