Bidding Heats Up For Coates Hire

While several major suitors are in the hunt to acquire Coates Hire, Australia’s largest rental company, the process has encountered delays because of turmoil in global credit markets, according to Australian press reports.

The deadline for final bids has been postponed from August 14 to August 25, Reuters reported. The extended deadline will allow the mix of private equity firms and strategic acquirers more time to value the company accurately and raise debt from lender bankers to fund a possible acquisition.

Bidders reportedly include global private equity firm Carlyle Group, Australian equipment rental company National Hire Group, and a consortium of private equity players including Pacific Equity Partners and Nikko Principal Investments Australia.

Loxam, Europe’s largest rental company is reported to be bidding for Coates as well, however without private equity backers. Australian mid-market company Archer Capital reportedly abandoned an early bid for Coates, which is believed to be seeking a price in the range of AU $2 billion to AU $2.5 billion (about U.S. $1.7 billion to $2.2 billion).

The fallout from rising defaults in U.S.-based mortgage-related bonds has led to tighter lending standards in products such as the debt used to fun private equity acquisitions. The cautious credit environment has also made it more difficult to close deals that started when stock prices were high and management calculated its valuations at higher multiples.

Coates Hire’s share has dropped from AU $6.02 when Coates management opened a data room for potential bidders July 16, to AU $5.60 at the close of trading Friday. Sources close to the situation have said the Coates board does not feel pressure to sell and won’t drop its price if valuations drop.

Coates last week delayed the announcement of its annual results to August 29, and said it would announce the outcome of its strategic review process at that time.

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