HSS treads careful path on acquisitions

By Murray Pollok06 November 2012

Chris Davies, HSS chief executive.

Chris Davies, HSS chief executive.

HSS doesn’t have a “war chest” of cash to make acquisitions but the arrival of a new private equity owner has allowed it to restructure its balance sheet and opened up further acquisition opportunities, said Chris Davies, HSS chief executive officer.

Mr Davies, speaking to IRN after HSS’s acquisition by private equity firm Exponent and the subsequent acquisition by HSS of power rental company Abird, said that any future acquisitions would be customer driven.

“We start with what our customers want – it was clear that power, and our service capability, fitted very well with our customer group. Abird was a perfect fit – a lot of our customers have a requirement for the services that Abird offers”, he said.

Mr Davies acknowledged that HSS had a “fairly long list” of opportunities, but told IRN that these would be governed by a good fit and not on a “want to be bigger” basis; “I don’t look at this as a ‘war chest’, but we are looking for the right opportunities.”

He said HSS had managed to grow every year for the past four years, despite the economic conditions, and that future growth would continue to be organic, supplemented by acquisitions “of the right type at the right time.”

“The pace at which this growth happens will be the pace at which it happens...Acquisitions are part of our policy, but organic growth is important to our business.”

Mr Davies added that he had given up worrying about the UK economy; “Our first priority is to help customers by saving costs. In this economy, that’s not a bad message”.

The HSS CEO would not be drawn on the price that Exponent had paid for HSS or the extent of the funds available for acquisitions.

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