Arkansas Best Closes On Panther Purchase

Arkansas Best Corp. has closed on its purchase of Panther Expedited Services Inc. from Fenway Partners LLC, a private equity company, for about $180 million. Arkansas Best had announced the purchase last week.

The transportation company, based in Fort Smith, said in a news release that all Panther's outstanding debt has been repaid and a $100 million term loan arranged by U.S. Bank National Association for the transaction has also been funded. The loan was arranged through U.S. Bank National Association, a subsidiary of U.S. Bancorp, Arkansas Best (Nasdaq: %%ABFS%%) said.

Panther, based in Seville, Ohio, provides logistics services to the transportation industry.

Arkansas Best said it was one of the largest logistics companies in the world and had 11,000 customers worldwide. The company reported about $215 million in revenue and $24 million of adjusted EBITDA in 2011.

Panther, founded in 1992, will operate as a sister company to ABF Freight System Inc., Arkansas Best's largest subsidiary.

"We're delighted to welcome Panther into Arkansas Best and will immediately begin to offer our customers more end-to-end logistics solutions in response to their complex supply chain needs," Arkansas Best President and Chief Executive Officer Judy R. McReynolds said in the company press release.

The deal marks the first acquisition under McReynolds, who became chief executive in 2010.