Bearskin Airlines sold to Winnipeg company

A Winnipeg holding company has bought Bearskin Airlines for a cash and share deal worth $32.5 million.

A Winnipeg holding company has bought Bearskin Airlines for a cash and share deal worth $32.5 million.

Exchange Income Corp. announced Wednesday that it has signed a letter of intent to acquire Bearskin Airlines, a regional carrier headquartered in Sioux Lookout.

"The acquisition of the business of Bearskin Airlines will help to accelerate the next phase of our growth and is strategic on a number of levels," Mike Pyle, president and CEO of Exchange Income stated in a news release.

"Most notably, it allows our aviation segment to expand its operations into select markets in northwestern Ontario that are generally under-served, including Thunder Bay, Sioux Lookout, Kenora, and Dryden.

"Equally important, it complements a number of our existing routes in Manitoba, providing opportunities for increased synergies and efficiencies for all of our aviation segment subsidiaries."

Exchange Income Corp. (EIC) already owns three other regional carriers: Perimeter Aviation, Calm Air, and Keewatin Air.

In a joint statement, Bearskin president Harvey Friesen and executive vice president Cliff Friesen said EIC's aviation track record was a "key driver" in their decision to sell the company.

"It is a rare combination to find a buyer that has the access to capital that EIC brings yet still enables us to keep our core culture and values that have driven this company to its current level of success," the statement said.

Bearskin was founded in 1963 and provides more than 100 scheduled flights daily to 17 destinations in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Its main operations are based in in Sioux Lookout, Thunder Bay and Winnipeg.

The Friesens will continue to run the business once the sale is finalized, stated the news release.