Universal Helicopters has been sold to the Nunatsiavut Group of Companies, with the help of a private investment fund founded by former Prime Minister Paul Martin. 

The deal was signed on Monday morning in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador. Martin was on hand for the signing. 

"This is one of the largest deals involving aboriginal Canada of this type that have been done," said Martin.  "And it's a very significant deal."    

Universal helicopters

These helicopters owned by Universal are based in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. (CBC)

The Nunatsiavut Group of Companies is the business arm of the Nunatsiavut government, the Inuit government in Labrador. The CAPE Fund, which stands for Capital for Aboriginal Prosperity and Entrepreneurship, is a $50-million private fund run by Martin and his son. The third investor is the Tasiujatsoak Trust.  

The financial terms of the agreement were not revealed, but James Thorbourne, the president and CEO of the Nunatsiavut Group of Companies, was able to disclose some of the assets included in the deal.
"There are 18 helicopters involved, property in Goose Bay, Gander, Pasadena and St. John's," said Thorbourne. "All the tools and whatnot that goes with the business. Two financial institutions, three investors, fairly large and fairly complex."

"CAPE only has a handful of investments across the country so we're thrilled that they're part of this."

Martin said he has high hopes for the future of Universal Helicopters under its new owners. 

"I believe that there are young Inuit, some who are not even born yet, who will be able to take advantage of this," said Martin. 

The Nunatsiavut Group also owns a stake in Air Labrador and in CAI Nunatsiavut Marine, but Universal Helicopters will be its largest business.