Daily News: June 15, 2012

U.S. Bank Arranges $100 Million Term Loan for Arkansas Best

Arkansas Best Corporation, a provider of freight transportation and logistics solutions, announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Panther Expedited Services, Inc. from Fenway Partners, a middle-market private equity firm.

The total transaction value is approximately $180 million, subject to post-closing adjustments, with all of Panther’s outstanding debt being repaid as part of the transaction. The acquisition is scheduled to close on or about June 15, 2012, subject to customary conditions, including the funding of a new term loan agreement for Arkansas Best.

Panther is an independent expedited transportation and premium logistics provider.

Arkansas Best expects to fund the $180 million purchase price with $80 million in cash and a five-year $100 million senior secured term loan, which can be increased to $175 million through an accordion feature. U.S. Bank is acting as the lead arranger of the loan syndicate for the transaction.

Following the close of the transaction, Panther will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Arkansas Best. All members of the Panther executive team are expected to remain in their current roles with the company.

Stifel Nicolaus Weisel acted as financial advisor to Arkansas Best for the transaction while J.P. Morgan Securities LLC acted as financial advisor for Fenway Partners and Panther. Stephens Inc. provided a fairness opinion to Arkansas Best. Vinson & Elkins acted as legal advisor to Arkansas Best. Scudder Law Firm acted as legal advisor to Fenway Partners and Panther.

Peter Lamm, co-founder and managing partner of Fenway Partners, said, “During Fenway’s ownership of Panther, we partnered with management to significantly grow and diversify the company’s revenue base, broaden and deepen the management team, improve the customer value proposition, and increase earnings and domestic headcount. We transitioned Panther from the entrepreneurial stage to a professionally managed business, and are pleased that Arkansas Best, a very well respected transportation company, is making this strategic acquisition.”