Jerry Moyes Selling at Discount to LBO in Swift IPO

Jerry Moyes, who took control of Swift Transportation Co. in a $2.37 billion leveraged buyout in 2007, is planning an initial public offering that values the trucking company at 25 percent less after three years of losses.

North America’s largest truckload carrier is trying to raise $1 billion selling 67.3 million Class A shares at $13 to $15 each today in the second-biggest U.S. IPO of 2010, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The midpoint price would give the Phoenix-based company a market value of $1.78 billion. Moyes paid about the same amount in May 2007 for the 74 percent equity stake that he didn’t already own, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Moyes, 66, co-founded Swift in 1966 with a single truck. He stepped down as chief executive officer in 2005. Now he’s selling a 53 percent stake to help repay debt after the company posted $678 million in losses. Swift Transportation’s net borrowings relative to cash flow are more than four times the median for U.S.-traded trucking companies, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

“Investors are very leery of buying anything other than a really pristine growth story,” said Timothy Cunningham, a money manager at Santa Fe, New Mexico-based Thornburg Investment Management, which oversees about $70 billion. Swift is “losing money. It’s hard to get excited about that,” he said.

Name Change

Morgan Stanley in New York, Bank of America Corp. of Charlotte, North Carolina, and San Francisco-based Wells Fargo & Co. are arranging the sale. Swift Transportation, which is changing its name from Swift Holdings Corp., will start trading on the New York Stock Exchange tomorrow under the ticker SWFT.

Swift Transportation, which had about 16,200 tractors and 48,600 trailers in North America as of September, posted a net loss of $77 million for the first three quarters of 2010.

Moyes, who originally took Swift public in 1990, had stepped down as chairman and CEO in October 2005 after paying $1.5 million to settle an SEC case accusing him of insider trading without admitting or denying wrongdoing, the prospectus said. The accusation related to his purchase of 187,000 Swift shares in May 2004, days before the company announced better- than-estimated earnings and the stock jumped 20 percent.

NHL Team

Moyes sold the National Hockey League’s Phoenix Coyotes to the NHL for $140 million in November 2009 after the team filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 in May of that year.

In March, the NHL sued Moyes for breach of contract, aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty and attempting to sell the Coyotes without NHL consent, seeking damages of at least $60 million, the prospectus said. Moyes has filed a motion to dismiss the NHL’s claims.

Dave Berry, the Swift Transportation vice president who handles press inquiries for Moyes, said the CEO wasn’t available to comment.

Moyes, who graduated from Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, in 1966 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, made $1.6 million as Swift Transportation’s CEO over the past three years, the company’s prospectus said. He was also chairman of Simon Transportation Services Inc., the trucking company that filed for bankruptcy protection in 2002.

Swift Transportation had $2.33 billion more debt than cash at the end of September and generated $341 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization in the first nine months of 2010, its prospectus said.

Relative Value

That would give Swift Transportation 5.13 times more net debt than its cash flow over a full year, more than quadruple the median net debt-to-Ebitda ratio of 1.12 for 23 U.S.-traded trucking companies, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Neither Werner Enterprises Inc. of Omaha, Nebraska, nor Phoenix-based Knight Transportation Inc., cited as Swift Transportation’s competitors by Marina del Rey, California-based IPOdesktop.com, had any debt at the end of September, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Swift Transportation is “obviously a company that’s having difficulties,” said Michael Yoshikami, who oversees $1 billion at YCMNet Advisors in Walnut Creek, California. “If you’re investing in a company with lots of losses where a high growth rate is not on the cards, it’s a significant risk.”

GM, ISoftStone

The IPO would be the second largest in the U.S. this year after Detroit-based General Motors Co.’s $18.1 billion sale of common shares last month, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Swift’s deal is one of 10 scheduled for this week, the data show.

The week’s first IPO came from ISoftStone Holdings Ltd., a Beijing-based information technology services provider that raised $141 million yesterday. The stock climbed 28 percent to $16.62 in New York Stock Exchange trading today.

ISoftStone sold 10.83 million American depositary receipts at $13 each, the top of its forecast range, according to its SEC filing and Bloomberg data. The sale was the 40th U.S. IPO from a mainland Chinese company in 2010, capping a record year that exceeded the 37 deals in 2007, the data show.

To contact the reporters on this story: Lee Spears in New York at lspears3@bloomberg.net; Michael Tsang in New York at mtsang1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Daniel Hauck at dhauck1@bloomberg.net.

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