Harrogate-based equipment rental group Vp plc said on Thursday it is launching a formal sale process for the company after an investment firm connected to Vp chairman Jeremy Pilkington decided to sell its 50.26% shareholding in Vp currently worth almost £190 million.
Vp shares rose about 14% to £9.38 on the news to give the firm a current stock market value of about £377 million.
In a stock exchange statement, Vp plc said: “Vp today announces that its controlling shareholder Ackers P Investment Company Limited … a company connected to Vp’s chairman Jeremy Pilkington, has indicated to the board its desire to explore opportunities to dispose of its entire shareholding in Vp.
“The controlling shareholder controls approximately 50.26% of the issued share capital of the company.
“The board has considered various options with its advisers.
“In considering these options the board, including the chairman, has had regard to the interests of all the company’s stakeholders.
“The board has unanimously concluded that it would be appropriate to investigate the sale of the company and is therefore launching a formal sale process for the company.
“The board intends to seek a buyer who will respect Vp’s unique heritage, family culture and committed employee base, support its environmental and sustainability goals and commitments, and enable the company to continue to prosper in the long term.”
Rothschild & Co is acting as financial adviser to Vp on the sale process.
Vp added: “The Takeover Panel has agreed that any discussions with third parties in relation to an offer for the company will take place within the context of a ‘formal sale process’ as defined in the Code in order to enable conversations with parties interested in making such a proposal to take place on a confidential basis.
“The company intends to conduct a targeted process, focused on those parties who understand and value the full potential of the company …
“The company is not currently in discussions with, nor in receipt of an approach from any potential offeror relating to an acquisition of the issued and to be issued share capital of the company.
“Shareholders are advised that there can be no certainty that any offer(s) will be made, nor as to the terms of any offer, and thus whether any offer will be completed.
“The board reserves the right to alter any aspect of the process or to terminate it at any time and in such cases will make an announcement as appropriate.
“The board also reserves the right to reject any approach or terminate discussions with any interested party or participant at any time.”
Vp chairman Pilkington said: “Vp’s controlling shareholder, a company connected to me, has decided that it wishes to diversify its investments.
“This does not in any way reflect a dissatisfaction with the company or its direction.
“Indeed, they are strongly supportive of management and highly satisfied by the continuing strong performance of the group.
“But they do have to take into account their current and future obligations to my family as a whole.”
Vp CEO Neil Stothard said: “Following the indication from the controlling shareholder that they would like to explore opportunities to dispose of their shares, the board thoroughly considered all strategic options in partnership with our advisers.
“In considering these options the board, including Jeremy, has had regard to the interests of all the company’s stakeholders.
“The board has unanimously concluded that it would be appropriate to investigate the sale of the company and is therefore launching a formal sale process.
“The board intends to seek a buyer who will respect our unique heritage and highly valued employee base, whilst supporting our longer-term growth ambitions and ensuring we continue to develop our business and maintain an environment whereby the business can continue to deliver long term, quality returns, to our shareholders.”