Purchase of U.K. parent sets Smith Electric up for growth in 2011

Nearly nine months after making a first offer, Smith Electric Vehicles U.S. (Smith) reached agreement last week to purchase its parent company, Smith Electric U.K., from Tanfield Group for $15 million.

Nearly nine months after making a first offer, Smith Electric Vehicles U.S. (Smith) reached agreement last week to purchase its parent company, Smith Electric U.K., from Tanfield Group for $15 million.

The sale gives Smith a 51% ownership stake in the global company, and positions it for a potential initial public offering (IPO) in 2011, the company said in a release.

“This sale signals a bright future for the electric commercial vehicle industry,” said Bryan Hansel, CEO of Smith Electric U.S. “Being in a position to unify Smith’s divisions after less than two years of operating in the United States is evidence that the market for affordable, sustainable commercial fleets is fertile. The unification of Smith Electric Vehicles will create operational efficiencies and market synergies that will make Smith more financially sound and productive.”

Hansel told Fleet Owner back in September that Smith has plans to aggressively expand manufacturing, sales & service operations in the U.S. and Canada.

Tanfield will retain a 49% stake in the company, but that is subject to dilution as Smith raises additional capital, the company said.

“The board of Tanfield believes that a consolidation of the Smith Electric Vehicles U.K. entity into our associate company, SEVUS, creating a single, larger U.S. based business, would be in the best interests of shareholders, particularly in light of the plans that SEVUS management have for the combined business post this transaction,” said Darren Kell, CEO of Tanfield.

Smith began offering its flagship Smith Newton in 2009. The all-electric delivery vehicle has a top speed of 55 mph and a range of 100 mi. on a single charge. Sales of the vehicle have been boosted by some high-profile entities placing orders for the vehicle in 2010, including Frito-Lay purchasing 176 of the trucks and an initial order for two of the trucks by the U.S. Marine Corps.

(See photos of the Frito-Lay Smith Newton here.)

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