Ainscough sold

By Alex Dahm05 December 2012

Bradley Hall Holdings Ltd, parent company of Ainscough Crane Hire in the UK, has been sold for an undisclosed sum, IC reveals. The new joint owners of the UK’s largest crane rental company are Goldman Sachs and TPG.

Ainscough’s current owner is investment group Cavendish Square Partners LP, a Lloyds and Coller Capital joint venture company. Lloyds has been the largest debt provider to the group and is understood to have agreed the sale of a larger portfolio of companies, one of which is the crane rental company.

Neil Partridge, Ainscough managing director, told IC, “This will be good for Ainscough. Goldman Sachs and TPG are extremely resourceful and they will encourage our strategic thinking to further develop Ainscough and grow the business.”

The country’s largest mobile crane rental company is ranked 28th in the 2012 International Cranes and Specialized Transport magazine IC50 listing of the world’s largest crane-owning companies. As a national operation it has more than 450 wheeled mobile cranes and five crawlers operating from 28 depots.

Revenue for the company’s full financial year to the end of May 2011 was £97.5 million and, for the year to the end of May 2012 it was virtually the same at £96.5 million. Partridge forecasts a rise for 2013.

Looking ahead, “It should be business as usual,” Partridge continued, “We have been extremely busy almost since the start of our current financial year in June. For the last couple of months utilisation has been around 85% and we see a 93% maximum as a real possibility.”

A key element to the company’s success, Partridge said, is to maintain a modern fleet of young machines. Average age of the cranes across the fleet is 4.5 years, he said. A new 500 tonne capacity all terrain crane has just joined the, mostly Liebherr, fleet. A pair of LTM 1750-9.1s, the new 750 tonne wheeled mobile telescopic crane from Liebherr, will join the fleet in March and June 2013.

Started by Gerald Ainscough in 1976, Wigan-based Ainscough Crane Hire was then run by his three sons, Martin, James and Brendan, from 1984. It was sold by the Ainscough family in 2007 for £255 million to the company’s management team funded by an integrated debt and equity package from Bank of Scotland Integrated Finance (BOSIF). BOSIF was taken over by Lloyds Banking Group which sold it in 2010 to Coller Capital. The sale agreement was that Lloyds held 30% of the new joint venture with Coller, managed by Caird Capital.

Commenting on the deal, Martin Ainscough, former owner, told IC, “Ainscough Crane Hire is still, by a country mile, the UK’s leading crane business. Since we sold the business the global downturn has affected everybody and the financial structure at Ainscough changed because it was bought by a financial institution but it is performing phenomenally well. They have made some good acquisitions, some of which is the sort of stuff that we would have hoped to do if we had stayed there; the big push into crawlers and wind energy. I think that they are doing a great job. It is fundamentally a very good business that is operating very well. They are still the dominant player on the mobile and heavy crane scene and I fully expect them to continue and to prosper.”

The trading entities of Bradley Hall Holdings Ltd are Ainscough Crane Hire, Ainscough Heavy Cranes Division, James Jack Lifting Services and Ainscough Wind Energy Services.

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