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Bank supports market leader

Lloyds flies in to back £20 million management buy-out at PDG Helicopters

PDGPDG Helicopters has been bought by its management in a deal backed by private equity investor LDC worth more than £20 million.

LDC, the private equity arm of Lloyds Bank, will invest £15m to take a majority stake in the Inverness-headquartered business which employs 85 staff serving infrastructure and construction projects. The balance has been sourced by the management team.

The company was established in 1994 by a merger of PLM Helicopters and Dollar Helicopters and also has bases in Dublin, Glasgow and Wolverhampton. Recent project work included the upgrade of the Beauly to Denny power line.

The MBO was led by PDG chief executive Jerry Francis, who has been with the business for almost 20 years. Joining the board with immediate effect are John Forrest, former senior vice president of Talisman Energy UK, who becomes chairman, and Jim Wilson, a former managing director of SSE Ventures,  who joins as a non-executive director.

In the year to last September the group recorded sales of £16m. The investment will be used to increase capacity and invest in the fleet to support the continued organic growth of the company.

Mark Kerr, head of LDC Scotland who joined the board at completion and led the deal, said: “Jerry and the rest of the PDG management team have done a great job over the last few years transforming PDG into the clear market leader in its field, providing principally a range of specialist inspection and construction related aerial services.

“It has the largest helicopter fleet of its kind in the UK and a national footprint differentiating it from many smaller players. The company has significant potential to further increase its presence and capitalise on the growing demand for aerial support from utilities and on large infrastructure projects.

Mr Francis said: “LDC’s investment provides the financial and strategic support to help us capitalise on the increased demand for our services in the infrastructure and construction sector. We look forward to consolidating on the success of the company over the last twenty years. This investment will enable us to increase our fleet and have the capacity to service the growing market demand more effectively.”

PDG will continue to operate from its bases across the United Kingdom and Ireland. The acquisition finance team at Lloyds Bank was led by Jimmy Williamson.

LDC has invested £1.6 billion into ambitious businesses in the past five years to support their growth.

The corporate team at DWF, led by corporate partner Ronnie Brown, acted for the sellers and for the management team.

Picture (left to right: John Forrest PDG chairman, Jerry Francis PDG chief executive, Mark Kerr head of LDC Scotland

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