Discovery Air buys Great Slave Helicopters

Discovery Air’s (DA) stated mission is to “consolidate the fragmented Canadian niche aviation industry to realize synergies and economies of scale, thereby creating a profitable and diversified company able to deliver safe, professional air service to clients in selected niche markets.” Such a strategy has created some very large companies in Canada’s trucking sector.

DA’s first acquisition is Great Slave Helicopters Ltd. (GSHL), which owns a fleet of 70 light and medium helicopters and services locations throughout Canada, with particular emphasis in the Arctic. GSHL is headquartered in Yellowknife, NT. The deal is funded with cash and newly issued shares of DA.

Discovery Air Inc.’s Class A common shares trade on the TSX Venture Exchange under the symbol DA.A. Its recent initial public offering (IPO) grossed proceeds of $3,850,000 from the sale of 7.7 million Class A common shares that represent about 25% of the 26-million common shares outstanding.

Before the GSHL purchase, Discovery’s main asset was its wholly-owned subsidiary, Hicks & Lawrence Limited (H&L), a provider of forest fire monitoring to the Ontario government. H&L has a fleet of 27 aircraft with flight operations support and aircraft maintenance bases throughout Northern Ontario. In addition to conducting business as an aircraft operator, H&L is also a Transport Canada approved aircraft maintenance organization (AMO). It’s primary flight operations and maintenance base is located at the Dryden Regional Airport in Dryden, ON, while the head office is in London, ON. H&L had ceased to operate as a going concern in 2005, when its primary lender Pacific Western Bank, and currently DA’s largest shareholder, took over and installed new management. The re-constituted Discovery Air won new Birddog and Detection contracts in a public tender by the Government of Ontario for forest fire management services. (Sources: Discovery Air press release and company filings)

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