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Finelist sell off nears completion

Senior managers are in negotiations with receivers Ernst & Young to acquire parts distributor Autela Edmunds Walker, part of the collapsed Finelist Group.

A management buy-out team headed by AEW managing director Brian Waters, and including director Joe Conlin, Geoff Davies and Peter Blackburn, hopes to set up a 60-branch network with a projected turnover of £50m.

Ernst & Young recently carried out a network review, slimming AEW - which turned over £85m in its last financial year - from 150 to 60 outlets.

Mr Waters said the MBO would secure some 500 jobs - a similar number have already been lost due to the restructuring - and protect the distribution lines for several components suppliers.

But in order to succeed, AEW required "significant support and assistance from within the industry", added Mr Waters.

"It is our intention to ensure that the key strengths are retained: people and a strong Edmunds Walker brand are key drivers and it's vital that the emerging business continues to provide an effective product and service offering to the aftermarket," he said.

Mr Waters claimed strong support had been received from a number of customers and existing suppliers, including Lucas and Draper, but could not say how close the MBO team was to acquiring AEW.

Ernst & Young has moved quickly to sell the divisions of Finelist, which crashed last year amid allegations of financial irregularities, after failing to sell the group as a going concern.

Morelli acquired the aftermarket refinish supplier Bancrofts in December and Belgium exhaust maker Bosal Group purchased SDL, the aftermarket wholesaler. Finelist's retail division Motor World was saved by a management buy-out.

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