ATL Partners and British Columbia Investment Management Corp have agreed to sell Pilot Freight Services, a Glen Mills, Pennsylvania-based transportation and logistics provider. The buyer, A.P. Moller – Maersk, will pay a cash consideration of about $1.7 billion. The deal is expected to close in Q2 2022. ATL and BCI acquired Pilot in 2016.
New York, NY – ATL Partners (“ATL”) and British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (“BCI”) announced today that they have entered into a definitive agreement to sell Pilot Freight Services (“Pilot”), a leading global provider of end-to-end and last mile solutions specializing in big and bulky B2C and B2B freight, to A.P. Moller – Maersk (“Maersk”) for approximately $1.7 billion in cash consideration.
ATL and BCI acquired Pilot in 2016 after identifying a structural shortage in capacity required to meet the needs of shippers and consumers, which was created by the rapid secular growth in the big and bulky segment of e-commerce home delivery and installation.
ATL and BCI partnered with management to build Pilot from a family-owned business into the second-largest provider of B2C home delivery in the United States by investing in technology, sales, and operations and acquiring additional capabilities to meet shippers’ needs. Pilot has grown from approximately $28 million of adjusted EBITDA and 800 employees in 2016 to an estimated $127 million of adjusted EBITDA and over 2,600 employees in 2021. Under the ownership of ATL and BCI, Pilot invested over $70 million in technology and data science to enhance and automate decision making and improve productivity. Pilot further accelerated its organic growth through investments in sales personnel and a strategic focus on growing its e-commerce business segments.
To complement strong organic growth, Pilot successfully completed the acquisitions of seventeen franchisees, enhancing operational control and service levels, and completed the acquisitions of three third-party businesses to add capabilities and differentiate Pilot’s service offering. To expand its e-commerce delivery offering, Pilot built out a best-in-class last mile home delivery solution through the acquisitions of Manna Freight Systems in 2018 and DSI Logistics in 2021. Pilot significantly expanded its middle mile capabilities through the acquisition of American Linehaul Corporation in 2021, further differentiating Pilot’s market leading position with an integrated expedited ground network, enabling superior service levels and consistent access to capacity.
“We are appreciative and proud of the partnership we’ve had with the Pilot team in successfully executing on the vision of creating a differentiated, market leader to meet the growing e-commerce demand for big and bulky goods,” said Kirby Fine, Partner at ATL Partners. “ATL’s investment process centers around developing an investment theme over multiple years and partnering with a strong founder or management team to execute on that vision. It has been extremely rewarding to work closely with the talented team at Pilot and our partners at BCI, and we look forward to their continued success with Maersk.”
“The Pilot team has executed on a range of business improvements and growth initiatives over the past several years, substantially increasing the value of Pilot, and generating significant proceeds for our pension plan and insurance clients,” said Jason Cawley, Senior Managing Director, Private Equity at BCI. “Pilot represented the first co-sponsor investment for BCI’s Private Equity strategy. We have enjoyed a fulfilling partnership with ATL and the distinguished management team at Pilot during this investment. We wish Pilot ongoing success in the future.”
Zach Pollock, CEO of Pilot said, “It has been a privilege to partner with ATL and BCI. They had incredible foresight on where to focus our efforts and investments, and without their guidance, Pilot would not be the company it is today. I am extremely proud of the amazing accomplishments of the entire Pilot organization. We are excited to be joining Maersk and for the significant opportunities this new chapter brings.”
The transaction is subject to regulatory review and approval which is expected to be obtained by Q2 2022. Pilot and Maersk will operate as independent businesses and run their operations as usual until that time.
Harris Williams and Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC served as financial advisors and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP served as legal counsel to Pilot.
About ATL Partners
Founded in 2014, ATL Partners is a premier sector-focused private equity firm that invests in aerospace, transportation and logistics companies. ATL brings deep sector expertise to its investment approach with ten investment professionals and seven Executive Board members who have decades of combined operating experience in each of ATL’s core sectors. For more information about ATL Partners, visit www.atlpartners.com.
With C$199.6 billion of assets under management as of March 31, 2021, British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (BCI) is one of Canada’s largest institutional investors. Based in Victoria, British Columbia, BCI is a long-term investor that invests across a range of asset classes: fixed income; public equities; private equity; infrastructure; renewable resources; real estate; and commercial mortgages. BCI’s clients include public sector pension plans, insurance, and special purpose funds. BCI’s private equity program, with C$20.7 billion of assets under management, has a well-diversified portfolio comprised of direct and fund investments. The team brings industry expertise across financial and business services, healthcare, industrials, consumer, and TMT sectors.