Arkansas Best Climbs Most Since December on Panther Purchase

Arkansas Best Corp., a trucking company, rose the most in almost six months after saying it will purchase Panther Expedited Services Inc. to expand its logistics and high-speed delivery businesses.

Arkansas Best climbed 6 percent to $11.62 at the close in New York, the biggest gain since Dec. 20. The Fort Smith, Arkansas-based company will acquire Panther from Fenway Partners LLC, a private-equity firm, for a transaction valued at about $180 million, it said in a statement today.

Arkansas Best, which hauls goods from more than one customer in each trailer, is looking to expand its business by offering additional shipment arrangements, Chief Executive Officer Judy McReynolds said today in a conference call. The company will fund the acquisition with $80 million in cash and a $100 million senior secured-term loan, she said.

Arkansas Best needs to offer customers “a full suite of end-to-end logistics solutions,” McReynolds said. “If we have more services to offer them, they will continue to use us in more ways.”

Panther reported about $215 million in unaudited revenue and $24 million of adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization in 2011. The deal will be accretive to Arkansas Best’s earnings per share beginning in the third quarter, according to the statement.

The acquisition is scheduled to close on or about June 15, subject to conditions, Arkansas Best said.

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