Arkansas Best To Buy Panther Expedited For $180M

Ohio-based Panther provides a variety of global freight shipping services and was acquired by the New York-based private equity firm in 2005 . . .

Fort Smith, AR — The trucking company Arkansas Best Corp. said Thursday that it is buying Panther Expedited Services Inc. from Fenway Partners LLC for about $180 million.

The deal, which is subject to the funding of a new term loan agreement for Arkansas Best, is expected to close on or about Friday, the Fort Smith, Ark.-based company said. The price of the deal includes the repayment of debt.

Founded in 1992, Seville, Ohio-based Panther provides a variety of global freight shipping services and was acquired by the New York-based private equity firm in 2005. Last year, its revenue totaled about $215 million, Arkansas Best said.

The current Panther management team is expected to remain in place, with Andrew Clarke staying on as its president and chief executive.

Arkansas Best said Panther is a good fit for the company, because it will help it provide more complete shipping services for increasing complex supply chains.

Arkansas Best said it plans to fund the acquisition with $80 million in cash and a five-year $100 million senior secured term loan, which can be increased to $175 million.

Arkansas Best shares fell 58 cents, or 5.2 percent, to $10.38 in morning trading Thursday, a 52-week low.

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