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Ashtead makes hire purchases

ASHTEAD, the plant hirer, last week unveiled two acquisitions to be financed by a 66.3 million rights issue and a one-third increase in interim profits.

Ashtead is paying 16 million to buy Leada Acrow, a market leader in the rent of formwork, falsework, groundwork and access equipment, with 19 depots across the UK and Ireland.

The firm is also buying US plant group McLean Rentals, which rents plant to the industrial and commercial sectors and has eight freehold branches in Maryland and Virginia. Ashtead says the margins at both acquisitions are below those achieved by its existing business and the new firms will widen the groups product and geographic range.

Chairman Peter Lewis said: We anticipate improving their margins and benefiting from the integration of their businesses within those of Ashtead. The dynamics of our markets now clearly support the large, professionally managed plant hirers.

Leada, which was the subject of a management buy-out from BET in 1993, employs 250 people and made a profit of 1.8 million on sales of 13 million last year. Unveiling pre-tax profits of 8.7 million for the half ending October (1994: 6.6 million), Mr Lewis said the results were sound, given the continued pricing pressures in the industry.

Growth had stemmed from the opening of new locations and from recent acquisitions where Ashtead had improved margins.

Operating profits rose by 35 per cent to 43.1 million.