Sunbelt UK acquires MAS
Sunbelt UK has acquired UK specialist aerial lift supplier Media Access Solutions (MAS) from owner and manager Tim Kendall in an all-cash purchase. The final deal was agreed and completed this afternoon. No further details of the transaction have been released.
Kendal began operations in 2014 with the idea that there was a growing market for aerial work platforms that were specified with the film industry in mind, such as all matt black paint etc…. originally working as a consultant with JMS he set up MAS proper in 2017. The company has grown steadily since then and now operates from locations near Shepperton studios, Rotherham and Leighton buzzard working with studios from Bristol to Media City in Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow as well as the big London region studios.
The company focused on knowing and understanding the media industry, and its particular demands, such as around the clock service and specific delivery times. It expanded at a respectable rate, working on many high profile films and television programmes... until that is the Covid pandemic in 2020, when it struck a brick wall due to its heavy reliance on the film industry. That has caused some funding issues, although demand and therefore revenues have bounced back at a rapid pace, which caused their own challenges.
Although he is selling the business, Kendall is staying on board to lead the acquired business into a new expansion phase.
Sunbelt’s parent company Ashtead has clearly been keen to add rental streams that help diversify its exposure to the cyclical construction industry, both in the UK and North America, where Sunbelt Rentals and Canada have been acquiring business in non-construction related sectors including media. See Sunbelt acquires Whites
The past three years must have been something of a roller coaster for MAS, creating a range of challenges to overcome. More recently Sunbelt UK has seen the winding down of its massive contract with the NHS for equipment at its Covid test centres which has been a lucrative non construction stream of revenues and profits. On the basis of this experience, it is easy to understand why the media industry has an appeal, this is Sunbelt’s fourth film equipment related acquisition in the UK, but its first powered access deal in the sector. It looks very much as though the timing here was perfect, putting two companies that had totally opposite pandemic experiences in the right frame of mind at the right time to do a deal.
As to the future of the MAS business, a good deal of that will depend on how Sunbelt integrates it or not. The Sunbelt UK business has gained substantial experience serving a completely untypical equipment rental market with its massive DoH contract which should help it make a success of the takeover as well as the fact that it is retaining all of the MAS talent.
A positive move for both parties.