Fleet News

Pressure on former chief to bid for Arriva Automotive Solutions

PRESSURE is growing on Neil Pykett, the former chief of the newly-named Arriva Automotive Solutions, to head a bid for the up-for-sale company. Pykett, who headed Arriva plc's contract hire and leasing business when it was known as Cowie Interleasing, has confirmed he has been approached by stockbrokers who have venture capitalists suggesting they could raise funds for a bid led by him.

Arriva stunned the City and the fleet industry when it announced it was prepared to separate its finance division - which includes Arriva Automotive Solutions, the UK's third largest contract hire and fleet management company - from its core bus and motor dealership business following a second profits warning within two months. Three options face the company - a management buyout, a stock market flotation of Arriva Automotive Solutions or acquisition by a third party.

And amid speculation that GE Capital Fleet Services is heading the list of buyers, it has emerged that Pykett could be prepared to head a potential buyout. However, following Pykett's departure from the company it is unlikely he would conduct any deal with Arriva while Gordon Hodgson remains chief executive. Pykett was dismissed as managing director of Cowie Interleasing in acrimonious circumstances last year. Amid claim and counter claim the dispute ended with Pykett accepting £100,000 from the company at an industrial tribunal.

Arriva Automotive Solutions is believed to be valued at £280 million to £350 million and Pykett, who said he had not been in contact with Arriva or its financial advisers, declined to be drawn on whether he would react to the pressure. But he has spoken to company founder Sir Tom Cowie, a long-time critic of the present management team.

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