P.M.NEWS had reported the takeover several months ago, but the airline repeatedly denied the report, claiming that Aero was still owned by the Ibru family.
However, in statement early today, Aero confirmed that AMCON is now the majority shareholder of the airline while the Ibru family known as the legacy shareholders maintain a stake in the business.
“The Legacy shareholders will have the first right of option to buy-back the shares owned by AMCON through the financial investment for equity,” Aero said in a statement early today, adding that AMCON has entered into an agreement with the legacy shareholders.
As a result of the takeover, Aero said, several changes have been made in the past few weeks to help AERO achieve its set turnaround objectives.
Captain Akinlawon George resigned on 30 November to pave way to a new management.
“The incumbent Deputy Managing Director, Mr. Obaro Ibru, has been temporarily appointed as the Acting Managing Director while Captain Russell Leefoon who is in charge of Flight Operations has been appointed as the Acting Accountable Manager, pending the conclusion of the ongoing recruitment exercise,” Aero said.
The airline said the following positions, Managing Director, Chief Financial Officer and Head, Internal Control & Audit, will all be affected by the takeover.
The 51 year old Aero Contractors airline is one of the four major commercial airlines in Nigeria and the oldest among them.
Two other airlines, Dana Air and Air Nigeria are not in the skies.
While Air Nigeria has suspended operations for a year on account of bankruptcy, Dana Air has not resumed operation since the 3 June plane crash.
The Central Bank of Nigeria had announced that all credits to Aero should be halted because of its $200 million loan.
“We can confirm that Aero’s debt has been taken over by AMCON. Currently Aero is going through a restructuring exercise under AMCON, pending final approval by AMCON board which is expected very soon,” said Mr. Omoke Enyi, Aero Contractors Chief Financial Officer.
Aero, the preferred airline by multinational oil companies, is Nigeria’s oldest private airline. With the technical support offered by the Canadian Helicopters Corporation (CHC), the world’s largest commercial helicopter operator, Aero has played a key role in the oil and gas operation in Nigeria.
On its website, Aero, which is based in Lagos, says it operates a “combined fleet of around 20 helicopters and 15 fixed wing aircraft ranging from 50 seat Dash 8 to 144 seat Boeing 737-400/500, employing about 1,300 personnel”.
Aero Contractors of Nigeria was formed in 1959 as a wholly owned by Schreiner Airways B.V of the Netherlands. It became a company with initially 40% Nigerian holding in 1973 and subsequently 60% in 1976.
In January 2004 Schreiner Airways was bought by Canadian Helicopter Corporation(CHC) which acquired 40 per cent holding of Aero contractors while 60 per cent majority share remained within the Ibru family group.
Currently, Aero is wholly owned by the Ibru family and is said to be managed by Mrs. Cecilia Ibru, the disgraced managing director of defunct Oceanic Bank.
The Company started in the early 1960?s as an air charter operator.From this beginning in the 1970?s,Aero has gone-on to provide both rotary and fixed wing services to all the major oil,gas and related support companies working in Nigeria and in West Africa sub-region.
By Simon Ateba & Aviation correspondent