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Equistone Partners Europe exits AFI-Uplift

03 juin 2013

Equistone Partners Europe Limited, one of Europe’s leading mid-market private equity firms, has exited its Fund II investment in AFI-Uplift, the powered access equipment company, in a transaction that involves the simultaneous acquisition of two smaller businesses at a total deal value of £85 million.

The transaction sees Rutland Partners acquire a majority stake in AFI-Uplift. AFI has also acquired two separate but complementary businesses: Hi-Reach and Access Rental Gulf.

Wakefield-based AFI is a leading provider of powered access machines to a range of sectors including construction and infrastructure maintenance. It also provides training and machine maintenance services.

AFI has enjoyed organic and acquisitive growth since Equistone invested in the business in 2006. Turnover has grown from £20 million to £32 million in 2012 and Equistone has backed AFI in a series of bolt-on acquisitions to increase its UK footprint and service offering.

Steve O’Hare, head of Equistone Partners Europe in the North, said: “During the investment Equistone has worked closely with a strong management team led by David Shipman to develop AFI from a dedicated platform hire provider into a diversified business which also offers extensive safety-related training and machine resale. AFI has expanded in the UK, opening several new depots and making strategic bolt-on acquisitions that mean it is now one of the leading players in the market and is well positioned for further growth.

“Despite its core market being severely affected by the recession, AFI has shown resilience and grown by diversifying its offering. Rutland has experience in equipment hire through its investment in Brandon Hire and so we believe it is well placed to nurture AFI and the enlarged group through its next phase of growth. We wish them well in the future.”

The Corporate Finance Advisory team at Deloitte’s Leeds office advised AFI on the transaction. The team comprised partner Paul Trickett, director Paul Roberts and manager Matthew Cheetham.

In addition, Deloitte’s Northern Debt Advisory team advised AFI on the raising of a debt package from GE for the deal. The team was led by Manchester-based partner Nigel Birkett with support from managers Susie Power and Jonathan Petty.

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