Acquisitions and Middle East expansion is 2016 target after £70m refinancing

AFI GROUP has secured a £70m refinancing from asset based lender PNC Business Credit as the group looks to accelerate its growth plans in the UK and the Middle East.
The Wakefield-headquarted group, which includes powered access equipment rental and training businesses, generated £55m in sales in 2014.
Although it made a pre-tax loss of £3m, its operational profitability was much stronger – EBITDA was £19m – before the effects of acquisitions and exceptional items hit the bottom line.
The refinancing deal has given the business access to a £55m asset backed lending facility, alongside a £15m term loan.
David Shipman, executive chairman of AFI, said: “This is a good deal for AFI and will enable us to continue taking advantage of both acquisition and organic growth opportunities as we head into an important period of growth for the group.”
AFI has accelerated its growth since an investment by Rutland Partners in May 2013, which amalgamated AFI and Hi-Reach in the UK with Access Rental Gulf in the Middle East, for a combined enterprise value of £85m.
The group now operates a fleet of more than5,000 aerial work platforms from 25 depots across the UK and the Middle East.
Mr Shipman added: “We have built a great team at AFI and, by continuing to focus on providing excellent customer service, we are well placed to grow further in the coming years. Our Middle East operations continue to grow, and with further depot openings planned for early 2016, we remain confident in the medium-term prospects for the region.”
AFI has completed three UK acquisitions this year – Safe Access Solution, Astra Training, and Hampshire Plant and Access – and is now targeting further acquisitions as it seeks to “take advantage of consolidation opportunities in the fragmented UK hire market”.
Oliver Jones, partner at Rutland Partners said: “We are delighted with the strong progress AFI has made since our original investment. The PNC facility provides robust backing that will enable AFI to capitalise on further growth opportunities, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with AFI team.”

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