AA flotation may be on the cards

The owner of the AA, the roadside assistance group, is understood to prefer a public float of the company, rather than its disposal via a trade sale, as has been speculated upon of late.

Whatever the outcome, it is thought very unlikely that the AA’s Irish division — which employs nearly 500 people — will be separated from its British sister.

Reports in the British press, last month, suggested that the Acromas group — the umbrella body formed through the 2007 merger of the AA and “third age” services company Saga — was gearing up to sell off its biggest two brands. The group owns a number of other companies, including DirectChoice Insurance and the British School of Motoring.

This followed the group appointing Ernst & Young to carry out due diligence work on the two brands and apparently advise on potential valuations. A figure of £5bn (€6.2bn) for the AA and one of between £3bn and £4bn for Saga has been bandied about.

Acromas, however, has said it is not engaged in any formal process to sell its business, either in whole or in part. The group is ultimately owned by private equity backers including CVC, Permira, and Charterhouse.

Acromas’s chief executive, Andrew Goodsell has, in the past, said he would favour a stock market listing for Acromas as a whole entity rather than a split of the business, and that seems to still be the party line.

The company has also said that “an event” will happen at some stage, but added that whether it is a flotation of the group or a trade sale of assets is currently nothing more than “speculation”.

A spokesperson added that nothing has been ruled in or out, at this stage, and management is in “no rush to make a decision”.

However, it has also been pointed out that Acromas’s owners have time on their side, with refinancing also an option, as the first tranche of its £5bn-£6bn debt (the group’s trading figures are currently more than adequate to service the debt) is not set to mature until 2015.

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