The final bid, a result of more than nine months of negotiations, gives Copart 100% ownership of Universal at £2 per share, a 5.3% mark-up on share prices when the bid was first made in February. Universal is being advised to accept the offer.
Universal offers a range of services dealing with accident damaged, low value and scrap vehicles. Its client list includes insurers, dealerships and local councils, which use the company to dispose of abandoned cars.
The company’s recent fortunes have been mixed, with a £4m operating loss recorded in 2004, but has since worked its way back into profit.
The acquisition by Copart, which offers a similar service in the US, is an indication of its perceived value as a foothold in the European market, but also gives Universal’s clients the benefit of its 25 years’ experience. Copart is expected to implement its bidding system already in use in its US operation.
This can only be good news, says Katie Tzouliadis of Biddicks, Universal’s PR advisor. “The offer is good for everyone. Copart is a supportive parent with financial muscle and a sophisticated bidder system. Customers will benefit – and it’s all about customer service.”