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AFI secures platform for growth via GBP70m refinancing deal

AFI Group, a UK-based powered access equipment rental and training businesses, has secured a GBP70 million refinancing from asset based lender PNC Business Credit as the Group looks to accelerate its growth plans in both the UK and the Middle East.

Led by Executive Chairman, David Shipman, who invested in the business back in May 2002, AFI supplies powered access equipment for rent and sale, along with a comprehensive range of related training courses, to a wide variety of customers and has developed via organic growth and targeted acquisitions into a business that today operates a fleet of over 5,000 aerial work platforms from 25 depots across the UK and the Middle East.
The refinancing deal has given the business access to a GBP55 million asset backed lending facility, alongside a GBP15 million term loan, providing AFI with additional financial firepower as it seeks to continue growing in both the UK and the Middle East. Having already completed three UK acquisitions this year, the Group will now target further acquisitions as it seeks to take advantage of consolidation opportunities in the fragmented UK hire market. AFI will also continue to look at opportunities to extend its depot footprint in key strategic areas of the UK and the Middle East.
The Group 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 GBP85 million. Last year, the Group saw strong growth with record revenues of GBP55 million and EBITDA of GBP19 million, and is expected to make further progress this year, despite a challenging market backdrop in the UK.
David Shipman, Chairman of AFI, says: “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.
“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.”
Oliver Jones, Partner at Rutland Partners, says: “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.”
Paul Beveridge, UK Managing Director of PNC Business Credit, says: “PNC Business Credit was delighted to provide a five year committed facility of GBP70m to support AFI in its continued growth plans. We were impressed with the AFI management team's drive and enthusiasm, as well as the quality of the underlying fleet assets and cashflows which underpin the loan.”

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