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ABS sale completed

Vehicle repair network ABS has been acquired by specialist insurance claims management group Aquilo plc.

The purchase was formally completed yesterday when a resolution was passed by at an extraordinary general meeting of Aquilo shareholders.

The new organisation created by the purchase is thought to be unique in the motor and insurance industries, with the ability to handle outsourced claims management and vehicle repair, or any element of the processes involved, completely in-house.

Clive Nicholls, Aquilo chief executive, says: "We are very pleased to see the acquisition completed. The new organisation that we have created has massive potential for winning business from insurers, brokers and major fleets of all types and sizes.

"We will be spending the next few weeks integrating some of the major functions of the two companies and looking at how best to bring our new offering to the market."

Nicholls added that the input of ABS repairers would continue to be a major asset to the business. Those who were shareholders in ABS retain a shareholding in the new company.

He said: "The experience and expertise of all our 240 repairers will be a crucial element in the future of the company and we intend to build into our new structure a number of ways to ensure that their views can be clearly heard and their questions answered."

Alan Hodgkinson, who becomes the managing director of Aquilo’s motor services business, of which ABS is a part, says: "We are convinced that this is excellent news for ABS, its customers and its repairers. Looking to the future, we are very excited about what the new company can achieve."

Under the new structure, Hodgkinson and Derek Swann, formerly ABS Chairman, become members of the Aquilo plc board alongside Kevin Keasey, Michael Eve, Clive Nicholls and Ross Hyett. No redundancies are expected at ABS as part of the acquisition.

The structure of the deal:

Aquilo has conditionally allotted 28,140,000 new ordinary shares as consideration. In addition, 275,185 of 5% convertible loan notes and 123,492.50 of 7% non convertible loan notes have been issued to ABS shareholders as part of the consideration.

In addition 2,857,143 new ordinary shares have been allotted to an institutional investor at an issue price of 1.75p per share, £300,000 of 7% convertible loan notes have been issued to another institutional investor and £90,000 of 5% convertible loan notes have been issued to Directors and other individuals, of which £50,000 and £10,000 have been allotted to persons connected with Michael Eve and Clive Nicholls respectively.

Application has been made for 321,750,207 ordinary shares to be admitted to trading on AIM comprising 290,753,064 existing issued ordinary shares, 28,140,000 new ordinary shares issued in connection with the acquisition of ABS and 2,857,143 new ordinary shares issued to new subscribers. Admission is expected today.

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