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UPDATE 1-Helicopter fleet operator CHC plans $529 mln IPO

Monday, 6 Jan 2014 | 7:46 AM ET

Jan 6 (Reuters) - CHC Group Ltd , the world's largest commercial helicopter services provider, said it expects to raise up to $529 million in an initial public offering.

The company, owned by private equity firm First Reserve Corp, is offering 29.4 million shares at an expected price of between $16 and $18 per share, according to a registration statement filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday.()

First Reserve's stake in CHC will drop to 61.3 percent stake after the offering, which will value the company at $1.37 billion at the top end of the expected price range.

CHC operates about 238 heavy and medium helicopters that are used to transport crew to offshore drilling rigs and provide emergency medical services to governments.

Its customers include oil and gas companies BP Plc and ConocoPhillips among others.

Last year had been the biggest year for equity fundraising globally since 2010, thanks to improving confidence among companies on the back of the strong investor demand for stocks.

Companies raised $159.7 billion from IPOs globally, a 37 percent increase on 2012, and bankers expect 2014 to carry on where 2013 left off.

CHC plans to use proceeds from the offering to pay down debt and for other general corporate purposes.

The company plans to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "HELI".

J.P. Morgan, UBS Investment Bank and Barclays are the lead underwriters to the offering.