Alpine Air Express, whose cargo operations are based in Billings, is selling controlling shares to a Utah-based businessman known for his herbal and nutritional sales.
Officials at Alpine and Kenneth E. Brailsford, owner KEB Enterprises, said Thursday they had signed a merger agreement expected to become final in the next few weeks.
According to the agreement, Alpine CEO Gene Mallette will sell his 80 percent stake in the company at 97 cents per share. The company did not report how many shares Mallette owns or the total price for the deal.
Mallette said he expects the airline will keep “continuity” through the transfer of ownership.
“I am proud to be part of building a small, fixed-base operation into one of the largest regional all-cargo airlines in America,” Mallette said in a written statement.
Alpine has a fleet of 25 planes based at Billings Logan International Airport and flies to 16 cities in six states. Cargo includes mail from the U.S. Postal Service. The company’s headquarters are in Provo, Utah.
Air-cargo transport is a new venture for KEB Enterprises, a holding company Brailsford established in 1995. In recent years, KEB has purchased two Utah companies: bankrupt, family-run flour producer Lehi Roller Mills and custom homebuilder Irontown Homes.
Brailsford also founded Zija International, which markets herbs and other nutritional supplements worldwide.
Brailsford will become the new CEO of Alpine upon completion of the merger. The company will keep Bill Distefano as general manager, and Michael Dancy will take over business development.