AFI-Uplift acquires Facelift in £160m deal

Wakefield-based AFI-Uplift has acquired crane rental firm Facelift in a deal worth circa £160m.

AFI Uplift

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The acquisition takes AFI’s UK rental fleet to 7,500 machines with bosses saying the transaction will substantially add scale to its business.

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The deal is announced in tandem with confirmation that Pricoa, the private capital provider to middle-market companies, will invest £60m into the business through a combination of debt and equity.

The transaction has been led by the current AFI management team, led by chief executive David McNicholas and Chairman David Shipman, and delivers them control of the group through a significant majority stake at this important stage of development. The overall deal size for the combined transactions totals in the region of £160m.

Facelift is an established powered access rental business with a strong heritage in the truck mounted platform market. Founded in Hickstead, West Sussex in 1986, it reported revenues of £12m for 2018 and has a total rental fleet of over 700 machines.

AFI plans to retain and develop the Facelift brand, with managing director Paul Standing set to join the AFI board following the acquisition.

The deal marks the exit for private equity firm Rutland Partners, who had been investors into AFI for the past six years. Having invested in AFI in a complex and transformational three-business combination deal in 2013, Rutland has fully supported the significant growth initiatives of recent years and is realising a strong return.

Mr McNicholas said: “We are really pleased to be adding the Facelift business and a strong team of experienced people to the Group. It’s a complementary fit to our existing business, allowing us to consolidate our position in the truck-mounted access market and strengthen our self-propelled mobile elevating work platform business. We are excited to welcome Pricoa as our new financial backer, knowing that they share our vision for the potential to develop the business from here. We are hugely grateful for the support and advice from Rutland, which has allowed us to achieve a significant amount over the last six years.”

Anil Gupta, partner at Deloitte, said: “We are delighted to have supported the shareholders of AFI on this transaction. We have enjoyed a fantastic relationship with David and the wider management team for over 15 years and wish them every success as they grow the business further with support from both its existing and new financial backers.