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Lavendon bags Panther Platforms

PLANT

ACCESS hire giant Lavendon has bought Dunstable hirer Panther Work Platforms for a sum that could total £10.1 million, depending on future performance.

The deal has expanded the group's customer base and improved its position in the industrial and maintenance sector.

Panther will operate separately from Lavendon's powered access market-leading subsidiary, Nationwide.

The purchase of Panther, reckoned to be the ninth biggest hirer in the country, cost £7 million ? £5 million in cash and £2 million from a share issue. A further £800,000 to £3.1 million will be paid, depending on Panther's financial performance over the next two years.

According to Lavendon finance director Alan Merrell, the purchase will bring the group a fleet of 1,300 machines, of which the bulk are scissor lifts under 26 feet.

He said: 'Panther operates in a very different segment to the majority of Nationwide's work and has a strong position in its local markets. It services the local ad hoc customer, which is distinct from Nationwide's focus on national accounts.' The group will retain Panther's 90 staff, six depots and management. Mr Merrell said Panther would benefit from having a much larger sister company, .

He said: 'We won't bring together the back offices to begin with, but the key benefit is that Panther will have access to the Nationwide national fleet.

This will mean it won't need to rehire bigger machines from elsewhere.' Mr Merrell said Lavendon had the cash for more acquisitions. 'Having reduced debt by £50-60 million over the past two years, we have the money available and we are not going to stop looking for opportunities, ' he said.