Couple's windfall

Founders sell ACE Winches to Ashtead for £53.5m

Founder: Alfie Cheyne (pic: ACE Winches)

Aberdeenshire couple Alfie and Valerie Cheyne have received a huge windfall after selling their engineering business to Ashtead Technology in a £53.5 million cash deal.

The couple set up ACE Winches 31 years ago and it has established a team of 200 with a foothold in the design, assembly and rental of equipment in 50 countries.

Ashtead, a subsea equipment rental and solutions provider for the global offshore energy sector, said the acquisition of ACE’s parent company Rathmay will be funded through the group’s revolving credit facility and is expected to be “materially” earnings enhancing in FY2024 and beyond.

Return on invested capital will be “materially” ahead of the group’s weighted average cost of capital in year one, it added.

ACE Winches is Ashtead Technology’s eighth acquisition in the last six years and follows the group’s acquisitions of WeSubsea and Hiretech, in 2022.

Ashtead said it continues to be “very encouraged” by its performance through the second half and now expects FY23 to be “comfortably ahead” of its previous expectations before taking into account the additional growth from ACE Winches.

Gary Wilson, current chief commercial officer at ACE Winches, will run the day to day operations reporting to Ashtead Technology management with Mr Cheyne remaining with the business as an adviser for 12 months to provide strategic and commercial input through a handover and integration period.

Chief executive Allan Pirie said: “ACE Winches is a business we have known for many years and has an exceptional reputation as a go-to provider of lifting, pulling and deployment solutions that is highly complementary to the existing capabilities within Ashtead Technology.”

ACE Winches works in partnership with clients across the oil and gas, marine, renewable energy and decommissioning industries. In August it reported a near-50% increase in turnover to £42 million for the year to the end of 2022. EBITDA rose to £16.1m, up 112% on the previous year’s £7.6m.

As at 31 March 2023, it reported gross assets of £55.7m and for the 12 months to December 2023 it is expected to generate revenues of c. £43.4m, adjusted EBITDA of £13.7m and adjusted EBITA of £10m.

Ashtead shares, quoted on the Alternative Investment Market, rose sharply on the news, up 93p (19.18%) at 576p in mid-day trade.

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