Ashtead hires Maitland for IR and corporate work

Building site plant hire firm Ashtead Group has dropped Tulchan Communications and hired The Maitland Consultancy as it shrugs off the cost of an accounting blunder at its US subsidiary.

Maitland consultants Brian Hudspith and Emma Burdett have taken on the combined IR and corporate brief and report to chief executive George Burnett.

Maitland’s appointment follows a general review of all Ashtead’s advisers, which has seen JP Morgan join Close Brothers Corporate Finance as the company’s financial advisers and Evolution Securities become the firm’s stockbroker.

The reshuffle of advisers comes as the company seeks to rebuild confidence among investors after problems at US arm Sunbelt Rentals forced Ashtead to restructure its debt after it defaulted on banking arrangements.

The firm, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange, subsequently made a loss of £42.2m in the year to April 2003 and incurred one-off costs of £31.4m, much of which related to the accounting error. The UK group said that the debt default had cost it another £7.5m in advisory fees.

In the year to April 2004, Ashtead cut its losses to £33.1m and earnings were up four per cent to £147m.

As well as Sunbelt’s 200 rental sites in the US the British company also trades from 220 UK sites under the name A Plant. The group employs around 6,000 staff worldwide.

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