The Vp board said that it was seeking a buyer “who will respect Vp's unique heritage, family culture and committed employee base”.
Ackers P Investment Company Limited, a company connected to Vp's chairman Jeremy Pilkington, controls 50.26% of the issued share capital of the company. It has told the board that it wants to explore opportunities to dispose of its interests.
Jeremy Pilkington said: "Vp's controlling shareholder, a company connected to me, has decided that it wishes to diversify its investments. This does not in any way reflect a dissatisfaction with the company or its direction. Indeed, they are strongly supportive of management and highly satisfied by the continuing strong performance of the group. But they do have to take into account their current and future obligations to my family as a whole."
Vp began life in 1954 as Vibratory Roller & Plant Hire Limited, set up by civil engineer Geoffrey Pilkington. It became Vibroplant in 1960, floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1973 and was re-launched as Vp in 2001 following a move away from general plant hire to specialist equipment rental.
When Geoffrey Pilkington died prematurely in 1978, his 27-year-old son Jeremy joined the company and became chairman three years later. The group today includes UK Forks, Brandon Hire Station, Groundforce, TPA, ESS, MEP Hire, Torrent Trackside, Airpac Rental and TR Group in Australasia. The group's market capitalisation is currently £380m.
But Jeremy Pilkington turned 71 last month and wants to call it a day at Vp.
His chief executive, Neil Stothard, said: "Following the indication from the controlling shareholder that they would like to explore opportunities to dispose of their shares, the board thoroughly considered all strategic options in partnership with our advisers. In considering these options the board, including Jeremy, has had regard to the interests of all the company's stakeholders. The board has unanimously concluded that it would be appropriate to investigate the sale of the company and is therefore launching a formal sale process.
“The board intends to seek a buyer who will respect our unique heritage and highly valued employee base, whilst supporting our longer-term growth ambitions and ensuring we continue to develop our business and maintain an environment whereby the business can continue to deliver long term, quality returns, to our shareholders."