United Rentals moves into portable accommodation and storage

By Murray Pollok16 April 2021

United Rentals is to acquire portable space and accommodation specialist General Finance Corp for US$996 million. General Finance owns the Pac-Van, Container King and Lone Star Tank Rentals businesses in the US and Canada as well as Royal Wolf in Australia and New Zealand.

The deal, which comes in the same week that United acquired Franklin Equipment, is United’s first major move into the portable accommodation and storage market and its first acquisition in Asia.

A Royal Wolf site office in Australia.

The deal will add 106 rental locations, 900 employees and around 100,000 containers and cabins to it rental fleet. United is now active in North America, Europe (through its Baker Corp acquisition in 2018), and Asia Pacific.

General Finance, basd in Pasadema, US, reported $346 million in revenues in the year to 31 December 2020, with EBITDA profits of $94 million.

Its Australian and New Zealand businesses accounted for a third of that - $116.3 million - operating 24 branches in Australia and 16 in New Zealand and with a fleet of almost 45,000 units.

United Rentals will make an offer by April 26 to acquire all of the outstanding shares of GFN common stock for $19 per share in cash. The acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2021.

A Pac-Van storage container in the US.

Matt Flannery, President and CEO of United Rentals, said, “Our acquisition of General Finance will be a significant opportunity for us to further differentiate our value in the eyes of our customers, while providing attractive, long-term returns for our shareholders.

“We see strong growth potential from this combination, including our ability cross-sell mobile storage and office solutions to our customers. Our expansion into this space comfortably checks all three boxes of our M&A criteria — strategic rationale, financial impact and cultural fit.”

Jody Miller, CEO of General Finance, said; “Our combination with United Rentals — the industry leader in equipment rentals — is a strong outcome for everyone involved. Our customers will benefit from United’s extensive solutions and geographic footprint, and our employees will have new opportunities as part of the largest rental team in the world.”

The rental fleet comprises 78,000 portable storage containers, 4,200 tanks, 13,600 office containers, and 4,200 mobile site offices.

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