Coopers reviews Tiphook: Leasing company denies rumour of GE Capital buyout

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The Independent Online
TIPHOOK, the troubled transport leasing company, has confirmed that Coopers & Lybrand, the accountancy firm, is conducting an independent examination of its profitability and cash flow.

But a spokesman denied reports that GE Capital, the giant US financial services group, had been in talks to buy all or part of Tiphook. 'They have not been in touch with us. We would expect them to attempt to destabilise the market. After all, they are competitors.'

He said it was normal for the banks to seek an independent view of a business's accounts when a refinancing was in the offing.

Discussions between the banks, led by National Westminster and Commerzbank, and the company were proceeding constructively, he said. 'The encouraging thing is the banks are asking what the solution is to the company's problems, not is there one.'

He said all solutions to the company's current crisis were being examined, and asset sales were a possibility.

But industry sources said it was unlikely that Schmitz, the German trailer maker also linked at the weekend with a bid for Tiphook, would make such a move. 'Schmitz would not get into the business of operating a trailer rental company, as it would then be in direct competition with its customers.'

Tiphook was pushed into crisis a fortnight ago, when it issued a profits warning and announced it would breach banking covenants. Its share price halved and Robert Montague, chairman and chief executive, was forced to agree to split his two roles.

Shareholders will be asked to approve new borrowing limits at an extraordinary meeting on 27 October. Tiphook's debts stand at about pounds 1.2bn.