“This is the first step in transforming our group,” says Clive Nicholls, managing director of Aquilo plc. “We want to become the key quoted vehicle for investors in insurance services and acquiring ABS is the most significant part of that process.”
ABS chief executive Alan Hodg-kinson and chairman Derek Swann will join the Aquilo board. Although the ABS name and branding will be retained and the organisation run from its present office in Northwich, Cheshire, it will operate as Aquilo Motor Services Division.
Aquilo ran its own network of repairers under its Accidentcare brand but switched to the ABS network in mid-October 2004. Some of the better performing Accidentcare sites will be transferred to ABS, but the network is not expected to grow significantly beyond its present 240.
Aquilo emerged from the business of AccidentCare, established in 1992 as an accident management service.
It achieved AIM listing in May but has continued to make operating losses, £1.7m in 2003 and £550,000 in the first six months of 2004. In 2003, ABS made a pre-tax profit of £284,000 and had net assets of £947,000.