Helphire snaps up Swift

As foreshadowed here, accident management specialist Helphire has agreed to buy private upmarket car hire company Swift Rentacar for up to £25.2 million in shares and paper.

Fully-listed Helphire, which last year bought road accident legal expenses insurer Albany for £46 million, is paying £15 million cash for Swift, whose fleet of 400 prestige cars will swell Helphire’s existing 1,000 higher-priced vehicles (out of a group total of 8,000 cars). Chief executive Mark Jackson says this greater upmarket element will help lift Helphire’s credit hire margins from 15 per cent in the direction of Swift’s 25 per cent.

He adds the enlarged group will have a bigger fleet than current prestige market leader, AIM-quoted Accident Exchange. The deal will provide a third call centre, in Cheshire, and speedier service around the country.

Jackson says Swift, which has forecast a current profit of £5 million, should contribute seven months of that, plus cost savings, to Helphire this year, adding a possible £3 million to City forecasts of £25 million pre-tax, against £17 million last year. ‘This might take us into the Footsie 250 index,’ he enthuses.

As well as £15 million cash, Bath-based Helphire is paying North Country-focused Swift £3.25 million in shares and £3 million in loan notes, plus £4 million to meet debts and £1.89 million for taxes. However, the company says acquisition tax benefits will limit the total potential price tag to £25.26 million.

To fund the Swift deal and repay £12.5 million of Albany’s bank debt, Helphire is raising £40 million through a three-for-23 issue at 260p handled by Cenkos Securities.

Leslie Copeland

Leslie Copeland

Leslie was made Editor for Growth Company Investor magazine in 2000, then headed up the launch of Business XL magazine, and then became Editorial Director in 2007 for the online and print publication portfolio...

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