Fleet News

Finance house wins battle to buy Auto Windscreens

FINANCE house HSBC Private Equity has won the battle to buy Auto Windscreens with a bid of £77.2 million. Auto Windscreen's parent Heywood Williams will now seek its shareholders' approval for the sale at an extraordinary general meeting on Monday, August 24.

The EGM will mark the last opportunity for Kwik-Fit and Cendant Corporation - both hotly tipped to buy the glass specialist - to put in a gazumping bid by appealing directly to the shareholders of Heywood Williams, in the same way that Volkswagen outbid BMW for Rolls Royce Motors, but this now seems unlikely. Instead, the sale is likely to go ahead as a leveraged buy-out, with Auto Windscreen's existing management team of managing director Mark Usher, marketing director Richard Usher, finance director Simon Russell, and operations director Phil Dawson remaining in place.

The £77.2 million acquisition figure comprises £64.8 million in cash and the assumption of £12.4 million of borrowings. It includes all of Auto Windscreens' business, including its 150 centres, 800 mobile fleet, windscreen factory and wholesaling distribution centre in Birmingham. In the year to December 31, 1997 Auto Windscreens reported pre-tax profits of £5.4 million on turnover of £71.3 million. It has audited net assets of £15.3 million.

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