Ethos backs Eazi Group in R1.6bn deal

The transaction is the firm’s eighth investment from Fund VI, which closed on R7.9bn in January 2013.

South African investor Ethos Private Equity has acquired a majority stake in equipment rental and sale business The Eazi Group in a deal valuing the business at R1.6 billion (€89 million; $97 million).

Ethos has acquired 65 percent of the business, which rents, sells and services work-at-height and material handling solutions, including access platforms, telehandlers and accessories. Jonathan Beare’s Buffet Investments and the founding shareholders hold the remaining stake in the company.

The acquisition is Ethos’ fifth investment in the last 12 months, and its eighth investment from its sixth fund, a R7.9 billion vehicle which closed in January 2013. Ethos invests in businesses with an enterprise value of between R750 million and R3 billion.

Following this investment, more than half of the committed capital in Fund VI has been invested.

The Eazi Group, which includes Eazi Access Rentals, Eazi Sales & Services, Eazi Africa and other subsidiaries, was founded in 2003 and “boasts the largest and most diverse fleet of boom lifts, scissor lifts, telehandlers and vertical personnel lifts on the African continent”, according to a statement from Ethos.

The group serves customers across various sectors, including construction, shipping, manufacturing, fast moving consumer goods, transport, entertainment, and mining industries. The Eazi Group has exclusive distribution rights for several brands in South Africa, including mobile high access equipment manufacturer JLG, Magni Telescopic Handlers, and Maeda Mini Cranes.

Ethos partner Shaun Zagnoev described The Eazi Group as “a prime example of South African pioneering spirit where visionary entrepreneurs identified a void in the market and through grit and determination established a new industry”.

Brett Fleming, CEO of The Eazi Group, said the private equity house had expressed interest in the business “over many years, during which time we developed a trusted relationship”.

Ethos’ investments in 2015 include the acquisition of paper-based packaging solutions business Neopak, branded tissue products manufacturer and distributor Twinsaver, and automotive parts retailer and wholesaler Autozone. Last year Ethos also completed its first acquisition outside of South Africa, leading a consortium of investors including Hamilton Lane and HarbourVest in contributing $150 million into the $350 million of new equity raised by Eaton Towers, a provider of shared telecoms towers across Africa.

Last year Ethos also exited its investment in plumbing services business Plumblink to JSE-listed Bidvest and sold its shareholding in JSE-listed Transaction Capital in December.