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New owner for Accès Industrie

6. October 2017 | Comments (0)

Parquest Capital has acquired French rental company Accès Industrie in a deal which values the struggling business at €100 million.

The complex two stage deal involved a major refinancing of the company’s debt which was close to €70 million plus other liabilities of around €30 million. As part of this the company also acquired a controlling stake held by Butler Capital Partners in September, taking the company's holding to 91.68 percent, with over 95 percent of the voting rights.
It has now made a tender offer for the remaining publicly quoted shares of €6.78 a share. The management holds over five percent. The company will then be delisted.

Accès Industrie had revenues last year of €53.2 million and runs a fleet of 4,750 aerioal lifts and telehandlers. It employs 334 and operates from 29 locations in France The company has been loss making for several years but has seen a solid pick up in the past two years in terms of revenues and gross margins. Last year it managed to post a positive result for the first time in years with a pre-tax profit of €5.6 million.

Access Industrie scissor lift
Access Industrie scissor lift

Vertikal Comment

In some ways it is amazing that Accès Industrie has made it this far, the company has been in serious financial trouble several times over the past 20 years, but has always managed to pull through, mostly because its funders were in too deep to let it fail.

The business has roots that date back to the early 1990s and Daniel Duclos, the founder of Delta, Systemes, the company that designed and produced the original Toucan mast boom. As the young manufacturer grew, Duclos realised that he would never get any decent volumes by selling Toucans to end users, he needed them to be available for rent. The problem was that none of the established rental companies were interested - “its too niche” “We have no demand” etc …etc…. So he began building up his own fleet to sell the concept, and soon showed the established rental companies what could be achieved. They eventually sat up and took notice as Duclos took small boom and scissor lift business away from them with his Toucans.

Then in 1995 he and his business partner sold Delta to Grove, but they Grove did not want the rental fleet, so he was allowed to keep it, even though he was employed by Grove on a two year contract to manage the Delta business for a transition period or longer.

In 1997 he was free and using his Toucan rental fleet he formed Accès Industrie. With his ‘gift of the gab’ and the fact that Genie was readily offering finance to any company willing and able to expand at a rapid pace. This enable Duclos to expand the business at blisteringly rapid pace, which included a move into Spain and then Portugal, followed by an IPO – stock market flotation in 2001.The following year saw the company run into a deep financial crisis as the economy took a bash. The business was restructured and financed machines sent back to Genie. The business survived in name and by 2004 some form of stability began to return, leading to the purchase of a majority stake by Butler Capital Partners in 2006. This was followed by further expansion, including a foray into the North African market. The company began to lose money as its debt mountain climbed and it started to look shaky again. In 2015 a new rescue plan was put together that involved the sale or closure of its overseas ventures, and a re-focus on the French market. This latest development is just another step in what has been a volatile history.

It will be interesting to see how it all pans out. The management has turned the business around and as long as the new owners are not looking at a short term exit strategy they could do well. One issue is that the average age of the fleet has almost certainly been extended following four or five tough years and playing catch up is not the easiest job when you have a 5,000 strong fleet.

Interesting times


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