No decision yet on Hewden says Finning

By Murray Pollok21 December 2009

A national UK rental company is one of the several organizations that have expressed an interest in acquiring the Hewden business from Finning International. The Canada-based Caterpillar dealer is currently engaged on a strategic review of Hewden but no decision has yet been reached on whether to sell or retain the business.

Mike Waites, Finning's president and chief executive officer, speaking at the company's annual investor's day on 16 December, said several organisations had expressed an interest in acquiring Hewden, including one "national plant hire" company. He said the outcome was likely to be known by the time of the next quarterly results presentation, in mid-February next year.

Mr Waites said that the Hewden strategic review and 'recovery plan' was proceeding well; "We have made a great deal of progress, and particularly on the recovery plan...a plan to rebuild profitability. That is very much on track, and probably slightly ahead of plan."

He said the recovery plan would help improve earnings at Hewden and, if the decision was made to sell it, make it a more attractive business to buy. He said Hewden had seen increases in daily hire revenues for the last few months, and that it was making particular progress in increasing its share of national accounts business in the UK.

The company also gave a general outlook for its business for 2010, forecasting that 2010 revenues will be slightly down from 2009, with lower new equipment sales partially offset by a modest increase in product support revenues. It expects profits to be up a little over 2009.

"Our sense is the economy is bottoming," said Mr Waites, "We are seeing positive signs in mining in Canada and South America. We have a very strong company with a leaner cost structure. And we are driving further improvements in operations to take full advantage of growth going forward."

Finning is the world's largest Caterpillar dealer, with businesses in Western Canada, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, and the UK.

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