Wolseley sells Brandon Hire to private equity for £43m

By Murray Pollok31 August 2010

Wolseley is selling Brandon Hire, the UK tool hire company, to private investment company Rutland Partners for £43 million. The deal is expected to close before the end of September.

Wolseley, which bought Brandon for £71.9 million in March 2006, said the decision to sell was made on strategic grounds, with tool and equipment rental no longer considered a core business activity within the UK business. Press reports in early July said Wolseley was considering the sale of several UK businesses to reduce debts of £1.1 billion.

The senior management team of Brandon, including chief executive officer Tim Smith, will remain with the business and are investing alongside Rutland.

Brandon is one of the largest tool hire companies in the UK, with total revenues last year of around £70 million and 177 depots and 960 employees. It was ranked 67 in the recent IRN-100 list of the largest rental companies in the world and is the 32nd largest renter in Europe.

Tim Smith said; "The Brandon management team are delighted to be working with Rutland who we see as an ideal investor for this type of situation. Together we are committed to taking the business to a leading position in the sector and continuing to improve performance."

Rutland Partners, based in London, describes itself as a "UK mid-market private equity firm. We focus on underperforming businesses where we can actively engage to improve performance, enable restructuring or assist with strategic change." The company's investments are in chemicals, healthcare, finance and consumer goods.

Nick Morrill, managing partner at Rutland, said; "Brandon has had a difficult couple of years as it was forced to adapt to market conditions, but Tim Smith and his team have done a great job in managing that process. Rutland looks forward to helping Brandon continue its recovery in what remains a highly challenging economic environment."

Steve Ashmore, Wolseley UK managing director, said: "Wolseley has taken a strategic view in deciding to sell Brandon Hire. This decision has not been made lightly, but we believe it offers the best way forward for Wolseley UK as well as for Brandon Hire and its employees."

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