Babcock International whirls toward helicopter stake


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The Independent Online

Engineering services firm Babcock International is in exclusive talks to buy into the world’s biggest helicopter operator.

The FTSE 100 company, which runs the Devonport and Rosyth dockyards and provides high-tech support to the armed forces, is expected to take a stake in Avincis, which is half-owned by private equity group KKR.

Avincis owns Bond Aviation Group in Britain and derives a large chunk of its revenues from ferrying oil workers to and from rigs as well as running search and rescue services. It is currently co-owned with Investindustrial, the Italian group behind Aston Martin.

A deal would help Babcock, whose chief executive is Peter Rogers (pictured), tap into the lucrative defence contracting markets of Spain and Italy.

It has expanded fast in the last few years, and now spans everything from nuclear power to maintaining energy networks. A statement from Babcock said it “confirms that it is in exclusive discussions regarding the establishment of a joint venture with respect to Avincis. However, there can be no certainty that these discussions will lead to any transaction or any certainty as to the terms upon which any such transaction might proceed”.

Babcock shares have risen 37 per cent so far this year, outpacing the 21 per cent rise of the FTSE 100.