Speedy Hire bites back at Tosca 'Rottweiler' over call for mergerComments Off on Speedy Hire bites back at Tosca 'Rottweiler' over call for merger
BESIEGED tool rental firm Speedy Hire attempted to put a muzzle on Toscafund “Rottweiler” Martin Hughes today as it slammed the activist investor’s campaign against the company as “an unnecessary distraction”.
Toscafund, led by Hughes, is pushing for Speedy to merge with rival HSS, and this week called for the resignation of executive chairman Jan Astrand.
The hedge fund claimed he lacked the “appropriate track record or attitude” to deliver a turnaround of Speedy and will attempt to depose him at an extraordinary meeting on September 9. But Speedy detailed a list of 23 meetings since May last year with Toscafund, which has built a 19.4% stake in the company. “Your board believes that the requisition at the behest of Toscafund after such extensive engagement is an unnecessary distraction,” it said.
Toscafund has repeatedly pushed for a merger of Speedy Hire and HSS, of which it owns 18% of the shares although Speedy stressed today: “Your company’s recovery is progressing well and to engage in any sector consolidation would potentially put that recovery at risk.”
Tosca said talks over the possible merger with HSS were “inexplicably halted” without consultation with shareholders, and could have generated at least £20 million in annual savings as well as insulating the two companies from a potential UK slowdown.
Stephen Rawlinson, an analyst at Applied Value, said: “The trenches have been dug by both sides and the grenades are being lobbed each way.”
Speedy — whose former chief executive stepped down in July last year after a profit warning — said revenues were ahead of last year in the four months to July 31 while costs had also been reduced.
The company plunged to a £57.6 million loss in the year to March after the botched implementation of an IT system as well as a shortage of equipment to rent out.