Ashtead Group's US business, Sunbelt Rentals, has acquired Louisiana scaffold contractor Empire Scaffold for US$38 million in cash, plus $1.5 million in August this year depending on profits.

Empire was founded in 2001 and is based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with seven branches in the states of Louisiana, Texas, Alabama and Tennessee. It mainly builds scaffolds for industrial customers in the Gulf Coast petrochemical industries.

The company reported revenues of $42 million for the year to 31 August 2010 and pre-tax profits of $4.0 million.

Geoff Drabble, Ashtead's chief executive, said; "We are delighted to conclude this acquisition which is firmly in line with our long term strategy of developing high value added speciality businesses which broaden our product offering and the markets we serve and provide us with significant cross selling opportunities."

Ashtead said Empire will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary within Sunbelt's scaffold division with its key managers all remaining with the business.

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