Northridge Equipment Services Inc. has been acquired for $69.6 million by the U.S. subsidiary of UK-based equipment rental group Ashtead Group PLC, which is seeking to boost its presence in the United States.

Ashtead's Charlotte, N.C.-based Sunbelt Rentals will buy the Northridge-based equipment company from the Groff family, who owns five rental stores in southern and central California and has operated the company for over five decades.

Northridge Equipment had sales of $38.3 million and pretax profit of $6.2 million in the year through September. Its stores are in Bakersfield, Palmdale, Northridge, Lompoc and Fresno.

The transaction was financed through Ashtead's existing credit facilities, and Northridge Equipment was acquired, debt-free, Ashtead said.

The acquisition is part of Ashtead's strategy to develop clusters of stores in different markets. "We have invested $100 million so far this year on acquisitions that extend Sunbelt's presence in attractive U.S. markets," said George Burnett, the company's chief executive, in a statement.

The acquisition brings the number of rental stores Sunbelt operates in the central and southern California markets to 10.

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