Scandinavian Air Ambulance, a case story

Scandinavian Air Ambulance (SAA) is the Nordic region’s leading air ambulance operator with both helicopters and fixed wing aircraft. The company is active in the whole Nordic region but its main operations are in Sweden and Finland. SAA has thirteen bases whereof ten are in Sweden. The main customer category is the public health system. SAA also performs international repatriation missions, usually commissioned by insurance companies.

In 2007 Pegroco was contacted by SAA’s bank SEB. SAA’s CEO was planning an MBO and the bank, which knew Pegroco from previous business, wanted Pegroco involved to give the transaction financial stability. Pegroco did the investment after an evaluation that pointed towards a number of positive factors. The company’s CEO was entrepreneurial, business oriented and financially committed. The customer contracts were long and the entry barriers into the business were considerable. Furthermore, as the competition was fragmented the expansion possibilities were good. The challenge was finding the best financial structure for expansion in such a capital-intensive business

Pegroco as active owner

After the take-over Pegroco and SAA’s management soon took a number of actions. At the time SAA was also operating the scheduled line Luleå-Parjala commissioned the national agency Rikstrafiken. With a new business plan the company was refocused strategically and financially on air ambulance transport with the goal to become the market leader in the Nordic region. Pegroco took initiative to renegotiate the helicopter lease contracts with the banks on better terms. A competitor was acquired that gave the company a stronger market position and a better balance between the helicopter and fixed wing operations. One of Pegroco’s employees was made temporary CEO of the acquired company to streamline its operations before the merger with SAA. As part of the marketing plan Pegroco pushed through a name change and activities to build the SAA brand. The marketing and sales organisation was stregthened. A competent board was recruited from Pegroco’s network. With what was now a stronger company SAA could win some strategically important tenders, such as in 2012 when SAA med the winning offer for three bases in Finland. The company could then begin its expansion outside Sweden which led to a precense also in Denmark and Norway.

In June 2014 SAA was divested to the Spanish/Italian helicopter company Avincis Group, which in turn shortly thereafter, was acquired by the British 40 billion SEK company Babcock International Group. When Pegroco made its initial investment SAA’s revenue was 35 million SEK, when Pegroco made its exit the revenue had increased to 500 million SEK.

Visit SAA’s website:

Scandinavian Air Ambulance