Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Trucking firm Vitran in TransForce hands

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MONTREAL -- TransForce Inc. (TSX:TFI) has come out the winner in a two-way bidding war for Vitran Corp. (TSX:VTN), another Canadian trucking and logistics company.

Toronto-headquartered Vitran is now supporting TransForce's offer of US$6.50 per share in cash for the stock it doesn't already own.

TransForce said Monday it owns 19.95 per cent of Vitran shares and has an agreement to acquire a further 2.55 per cent from a subsidiary of Clarke Inc. (TSX:CKI).

The deal is valued at US$136 million, including US$29 million of debt that will be assumed by Montreal-based TransForce, which is one of Canada's largest trucking and logistics companies.

"We are delighted to have reached agreement with Vitran for what represents the acquisition of an important strategic asset for TransForce with considerable synergistic benefits in the near term and into the future," Alain Bedard, TransForce's chairman, president and CEO, said in a statement Monday.

"We are looking forward to leveraging the strengths of both companies to enhance our service offering for our customers and welcoming the Vitran employees to the TransForce team."

Rival bidder Manitoulin Transport will receive a $4-million termination fee under the terms of its white-knight agreement with Vitran.

TransForce initially offered US$4.50 per Vitran share in September but Vitran's board later signed a friendly takeover agreement with Manitoulin Transport, which offered US$6 cash per share.

The Manitoulin deal was valued at US$128 million, including US$29 million of assumed debt.

TransForce announced on Dec. 20 that it was hiking its offer to US$6.50 per share cash -- a price that Manitoulin declined to match, Vitran said Monday.

TransForce shares ran ahead 42 cents to $25.33 after the Toronto Stock Exchange opened while Vitran was unchanged at $7.13.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 31, 2013 B5

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