Ashtead, the European parent to Giant rental company Sunbelt, reminded us all of how attractive the rental industry is to investors during good times when it announced on July 19 that it would buy NationsRent for more than $1 billion. After the acquisition, the combined Sunbelt and NationsRent operations will operate about $2.2 billion worth of equipment from 477 outlets in 35 states, employ over 7,000, with combined 2005 revenues of about $1.4 billion.
The consolidation will likely claim the No. 3 spot among U.S. rental operations, but that same week in July, Atlas Copco CEO Gunnar Brock said his company would likely finalize sale of RSC in this third quarter of 2006. The nation's second-largest rental company, RSC, will no doubt put some distance between itself and the new Sunbelt/NationsRent No. 3.
The rental industry's impromptu raid on Wall Street kicked off when the new owners of Hertz filed an initial purchase offering on July 14 to take their company public. In that same seven-day period, H&E Equipment Servicesannounced that its share price had more than doubled since going public in January. And Diamond Castle Holdings completed its $850 million purchase of NES Rentals.