Celadon to Buy Continental Express for $24 Million

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Thursday, Dec. 4, 2008 11:25 am  

Celadon Group Inc. of Indianapolis said Thursday that one of its subsidiaries has purchased Continental Express Inc. of Little Rock for $24 million.

On Wednesday, ArkansasBusiness.com was the first to report a deal was in the works.

In a news release, Celadon said the deal includes Continental's its truckload, intermodal and brokerage business, as well as about 400 tractors and 1,100 trailers. 

The publicly traded firm also said Continental generated about $92 million in gross revenue in 2007, according to Continental's unaudited financial statements.

Continental reported revenue of $107 million to Arkansas Business in May for the newspaper's list of the state's largest private companies.

"We are delighted with the Continental acquisition and expect it to follow the pattern established in our acquisitions during the past six years," Celadon Chairman and CEO Steve Russell said in a news release. "In those acquisitions, as in this one, our goals are to continue to broaden our customer base with quality customers, add density in our primary traffic lanes, and gain experienced drivers."

On Wednesday, ArkansasBusiness.com reported that negotiations were underway for the sale, according to Lane Kidd, executive director of the Arkansas Trucking Association.

Craig Koven, communications manager for Celadon, also hinted Wednesday that such a deal was in the works.

Continental has about 900 employees, including drivers. The jobs of the drivers are probably safe, Kidd said, although administrative staff jobs might be lost in the deal.

Celadon is a $500 million truck-load company.

"Based on our evaluation of the business, we believe Continental has quality customers and drivers, but suffered from a cost structure that plagues many mid-sized carriers," Russell said. "We expect to integrate the acquired operations promptly. As part of the integration process, we expect to optimize the combined customer, driver, and equipment base to improve asset productivity.

"We believe we can enhance the service to Continental’s former customers through an upgraded equipment fleet, excellent technology, more available assets for dispatch, and an outstanding safety record. We expect the acquired operations to be accretive beginning in the March 2009 quarter."



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