DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. - American Residential Services (ARS) and American Mechanical Services (AMS) may be up for sale. After announcing its intention to expand its disaster restoration business, ServiceMaster said it is "exploring alternatives" in regard to ARS and AMS, including the sale of both businesses. The company has retained William Blair & Company as its financial advisor to assist in this process.

The company said that it does not expect to disclose developments concerning the status of this process unless and until it and its board of directors has approved a definitive transaction. According to the company, ARS and AMS generate about $675 million in sales, but it appears both are not in ServiceMaster's focus on growth business.

"Our best opportunity to build shareholder value is to have fewer priorities and to pursue them with greater intensity. We have applied that thinking to both our strategies and our portfolio," said Jonathan Ward, chairman and chief executive officer. "This action reflects the company's continued commitment to brands which have the ability to achieve sustainable national market leadership and a high potential to achieve significant and consistent growth in share, revenue, and return on capital."

The possible sale of ARS and AMS came on the heels of the company announcing the acquisition of Fort Worth-based InStar Services Group, which is engaged in the commercial disaster response and reconstruction business. InStar provides a range of services, from planning prior to an event, to emergency response following the event, and continuing service through cleaning, recovery, and reconstruction. Terms were not disclosed.

InStar had estimated fiscal year 2005 revenues of roughly $130 million. The company expects to complete the acquisition of InStar during the first quarter after clearing antitrust review. "The acquisition of InStar will complement the services of ServiceMaster Clean and changes the game in the commercial disaster response and restoration market," said Ward. "Combining the capabilities of InStar with ServiceMaster Clean will create a single source solution for the delivery of comprehensive commercial loss services on a national basis, and an opportunity for our customers to significantly reduce business interruption."

Publication date: 02/20/2006