KKR nears partial exit from RM8.35bil helicopter firm


The private equity firm is in advanced talks to sell a portion of its 40% Weststar holding to the company

KUALA LUMPUR: KKR & Co is nearing a deal to exit part of its stake in Weststar Aviation Services Sdn Bhd, South-East Asia’s biggest provider of helicopters for the offshore energy industry, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The private equity firm is in advanced talks to sell a portion of its 40% Weststar holding to the company’s controlling shareholder, Malaysian businessman Syed Azman Syed Ibrahim, according to the people.

Weststar could be valued at about US$2bil (RM8.35bil) including debt, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.

KKR, which has been an investor in Weststar since 2013, has seen delays to its attempts to sell out after a global slowdown in the energy industry hurt demand for oilfield services.

Weststar started preparations the next year for an initial public offering in Kuala Lumpur, though the plan was later put on hold.

After selling part of its stake to Syed Azman, KKR will consider options for its remaining holding over the next year, the people said.

It could opt to revive an IPO of Weststar or sell the rest of its stake to Syed Azman or another investor, the people said.

No final decisions have been made, and there’s no certainty the discussions will lead to a transaction, the people said.

A spokesman for Weststar confirmed Syed Azman is in talks with KKR on its stake in the Malaysian company and declined to comment further.

A representative from KKR declined to comment.

KKR bought the stake in Weststar, which was its first Malaysian investment, for about US$200mil.

Since then, Weststar has nearly doubled its revenue and expanded into new markets including the Middle East, Africa and Timor-Leste, according to the people.

The company plans to add around 10 more helicopters to its fleet, from about 30 currently, and is diversifying into areas such as search and rescue operations and emergency medical services to reduce its reliance on the energy industry, the people said.

Besides Weststar, KKR is also exploring a potential sale of Goodpack Ltd, a Singaporean provider of intermediate bulk containers that could fetch at least US$2bil, people familiar with the matter said earlier this month. — Bloomberg


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