The sale of London Heliport starts
London Heliport, the only commercial heliport in the UK’s capital, is for sale.
Mohammed Al Fayed, the former owner of Harrods, is rumoured to be believed to be competing along with three other bidders. One person close to the sale says that some bidders may close the heliport and build apartments.
London Heliport is owned by Von Essen Aviation Ltd, which in turn is owned by Andrew Davis, an entrepreneur who founded the Von Essen luxury hotel chain.
Davis also owns PremiAir, one of the UK’s largest helicopter charter companies and the operator of the heliport. He bought PremiAir and Battersea Heliport, which he renamed, in 2007.
Von Essen Aviation is a separate company to the Von Essen Group – which owned 23 hotels and went into administration on April 20 2011. Lloyds Banking Group and Barclays Bank were the hotel company’s biggest creditors. About half of the hotels in the Von Essen Group have also been sold by Ernst & Young the company’s administrator.
Verta, a hotel that is next to the London Heliport, was sold this week by for about £18 million ($28 million). It was also owned by Davis, rather than Von Essen Group.
Davis paid £50 million for the heliport in 2007 and invested in a new passenger terminal in 2010. Despite this improvement it is expected to sell for about £40 million now. The heliport had sales of £5.96 million in 2010 and made a £178,000 profit after tax. In 2009 it made a loss of £1.4 million on sales of £5.2 million.
Al Fayed knows the heliport well. Harrods owned it until 2003 when it sold it to Weston Aviation. A spokeswoman for Al Fayed declined to comment.
Harrods Aviation, a subsidiary of the London shop, which is now owned by Qatar Holding Group, may also be a bidder.
London Heliport and PremiAir are not in administration and continue to trade. Lenders have appointed Deloitte to advise Von Essen Aviation.
David McRobert, PremiAir’s group managing director, has left the company. McRobert joined what was then McAlpine Aviation Services as managing director in March 2002. He then led the acquisition of Air Hanson Engineering and Signature Helicopters to form PremiAir. He became group managing director of the new organisation in November 2002 and negotiated the sale to Davis in 2007.
Battersea Heliport, PremiAir and a representative of Davis did not wish to comment.
Joe Bamford, one of the owners of construction equipment manufacturer JCB, had been rumoured to be a possible buyer. A spokesman for Bamford, one of the biggest users of the heliport, says he is not looking to acquire it. In October he exchanged contracts to buy Woodford Aerodrome an airport near Manchester in the north of England where BAE Systems used to build Avro/BAe 146 aircraft. However, he is not planning to keep it operating as an airport.