LBO France announced the signing of an agreement to sell Worldwide Flight Services (WFS) to Platinum Equity.
WFS is the world’s largest cargo handler and a leading global provider of ground handling and technical services. The company is present at over 140 major airports in more than 22 countries on five continents. WFS serves 300 airlines globally, including the handling of four million tons of cargo and 50 million airline passengers per annum. The company has grown from a family business to a global leader in its fields and now employs 12,000 staff worldwide.
LBO France acquired WFS in 2006 from French construction leader Vinci. Over the 2006-2015 period, WFS has pursued its development in fast-growing geographies such as the Middle East, Asia and Africa and in complementary businesses (e.g.,VIP services, management of cruise terminals, including in Hong Kong). Most recently, the group made a strategic move in Brazil through the acquisition of a controlling stake in Orbital Group, a Brazilian provider of ramp, passenger and airport security services.
Platinum Equity is a global private equity firm currently investing from a $3.75 billion buyout fund focused on acquiring businesses that can benefit from the firm’s operational expertise. The firm has substantial experience in transportation, logistics and distribution services, including aviation. Recently held Platinum Equity portfolio companies include: Active Aero Group, a North American provider of supply-chain solutions focused on transportation logistics for customers with sensitive or time-critical freight; and Neovia Logistics, a provider of spare parts logistics, warehouse management and fulfillment services, distribution solutions and other value-added logistics services.
Platinum Equity is working with WFS and its leadership team on a plan to ensure a smooth transition once the transaction closes, while developing initiatives to support the company’s long-term growth strategy.
Proposed transaction is expected to close by end of June 2015 and is subject to customary regulatory consents and approvals.
Jérôme Guez, partner with LBO France, said: “We are delighted to have participated in the growth of WFS alongside its management and teams, and particularly to have partnered with them in the pursuit of its international expansion in the Middle-East, Africa, Asia and South America. Their work and commitment was instrumental in recent successes despite a challenging environment. We believe that WFS is now optimally positioned to capitalize on future growth opportunities while preserving a profitable business model. We have full confidence that Platinum Equity is the ideal partner to successfully pursue this work.”
Olivier Bijaoui, executive chairman, president and CEO of WFS, added: “We view our future collaboration with Platinum Equity as a unique opportunity to grow our business and explore new opportunities, leveraging on our solid foundations and second-to-none experience. Their financial strength and M&A expertise will be of great support in our acquisition strategy and help the management to write a new and successful page of WFS history.”
Bastian Lueken, head of Platinum Equity’s European investment team, concluded: “We are excited about the prospects for WFS and look forward to working with Olivier and the management team to take the next step in the company’s global growth and evolution. We have a great deal of experience in transportation and logistics and we share the company’s commitment to providing world class service to its customers.”
Sycomore Corporate Finance acted as financial advisor to LBO France and Mayer Brown acted as legal advisor. Scotto & Associés was legal advisor to the management. Deloitte Transaction Services and Roland Berger provided vendor financial and strategic due diligence reports, respectively. Benoit & Associés also assisted LBO France in this transaction.
“We have a great deal of experience in transportation and logistics and we share the company’s commitment to providing world class service to its customers,” said Lueken.