Skydive the Beach splashes $22m for helicopter operator

Credit: Skydive Wanaka

One of Australasia’s most acquisitive operators has made another large investment again signalling its intent to become “the world’s largest adventure tourism company”.

Skydive the Beach, soon to be rebranded as Experience.co, has entered another tourism market segment with a A$20m (NZ$22m) purchase of Cairns scenic flight operator Great Barrier Reef Helicopters.

The company has been on a buying spree over the past three years spending tens of millions of dollars snapping up operators in Australia and New Zealand. Its last move in New Zealand was the purchase of land at Pukaki Airport in Mackenzie in June, where it plans to open its fourth skydive site in this country.

Last year, it bought Skydive Wanaka for $10.4m and Performance Aviation for $500,000 and in 2015 it bought Queenstown and Glenorchy skydive company NZONE for $17m.

Company founder and managing director Anthony Boucaut told the Ticker in June: “I think it’s safe to say we’d like to expand our footprint within New Zealand and we see many opportunities in many regions there. As we identify the right opportunities we’ll be investing in them for further growth in our business.”

In Australia, the company has recently taken over Raging Thunder Adventures, Reef Magic Cruises and Byron Bay Ballooning.

The latest deal would see Skydive purchase all of Cairns-based GBR Helicopter’s assets, which included 22 helicopters, airfield, helipad and hangar leases plus an office building. The addition of the helicopter operator marks another expansion into a new tourism industry segment for Skydive, which was founded in 1999 and up until a few years ago was solely an Australian-based skydive operation.

Skydive chief executive Anthony Ritter said the purchase of GBR Helicopters was another step in the company’s vision to become the “world’s largest and most respected adventure tourism company”.

“This acquisition not only strengthens Skydive’s position in the Far North Queensland adventure tourism and experience market, but also for the national and global markets.”

The ASX-listed company has financed the purchase with a A$20m new stock placement to a group of institutions. Half of the funds goes to GBR, A$8.6m repays that company’s debt facility, and the remainder goes towards the deal costs and working capital.

The sale is due to settle on November 1 and will take Skydive’s FY18 forecasted revenue to around A$124m with underlying EBITDA of A$31m – A$33m.

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