Warburg, Vestar Near $1B Deal for Triton Container

Warburg Pincus LLC and Vestar Capital Partners are close to a deal to buy Triton Container International Ltd from the Pritzker family, Reuters reported. The value of the deal could reach as high as $1 billion. Negotiations are in the “final stage,” Reuters reported.

(Reuters) – One of America’s wealthiest families, the Pritzker family, is nearing a deal to sell container leasing company Triton Container International Ltd to two private equity firms, a source familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

Warburg Pincus LLC and Vestar Capital Partners are close to an agreement to acquire Triton, which is owned by Chicago’s Pritzker family, the source said, asking not to be identified because details of the auction are not public.

People familiar with the matter told Reuters in October that the Pritzker family had hired Bank of America Corp to sell Triton and the sale could fetch about $1 billion.

The negotiations with Warburg and Vestar are at a final stage and an announcement is expected soon, the source said.

It could not be learned on Wednesday how much Warburg and Vestar have agreed to pay for Triton Container. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier on Wednesday that the deal, valued at about $1 billion, could be announced as early as Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Representatives for Bank of America, Warburg Pincus and Vestar declined comment.

The deal is the latest in a series of asset sales by the Pritzkers following a 2001 settlement agreement, under which 11 heirs set a plan to break up the family fortune.

In 2006, the family sold smokeless tobacco company Conwood to Reynolds American for $3.5 billion. That was followed in 2007 by the sale of 60 percent of manufacturing and services group Marmon Holdings Inc to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc for $4.5 billion.

In late 2009, the family took Hyatt Hotels Corp public. And last year, Madison Dearborn Partners bought a 51 percent interest in credit reporting company TransUnion Corp from the family.

The auction for Triton started in the summer of 2010 and has mostly attracted private equity buyer interest, sources told Reuters previously.

This is at least the second time Triton’s owners have tried to sell the company, which began operations in 1980.

In 2006, the Pritzkers had hired Goldman Sachs to sell the company. At the time, Reuters reported the company was worth $2.5 billion, including debt.

Triton’s fleet of marine cargo containers, with an original equipment cost of about $3 billion, is one of the largest and youngest fleets in the industry, according to its website. (Reporting by Soyoung Kim, additional reporting by Paritosh Bansal; Editing by Bernard Orr and Lincoln Feast)