Imperial of South Africa Expands in Europe With Freight Deal

  • Company to buy delivery group Palletways for $234 million
  • Acquisition in line with plan to expand in global logistics

Imperial Holdings Ltd. agreed to buy European delivery business Palletways Group Ltd. for 162.9 million pounds ($234 million) as South Africa’s sixth-largest company by sales makes good on plans grow outside of its home market.

Imperial will use foreign-credit facilities and cash to fund the acquisition from U.K. private equity firm Phoenix Equity Partners, the Johannesburg-based company said in a statement on Wednesday. Palletways, which was founded in the U.K., delivers about 8 million pallets of freight a year across 20 European countries.

The purchase is part of Chief Executive Officer Mark Lamberti’s strategy to seek international expansion of the company’s logistics operations, which range from pharmaceutical delivery in Africa to barging on the Rhine. Imperial’s other main business is its vehicle division, which includes importing, dealerships and rental operations in sub-Saharan Africa.

“The acquisition of Palletways is in line with Imperial’s stated strategic intent to expand its presence beyond South Africa through the acquisition of asset light logistics businesses,” the company said. Palletways’ management will co-invest alongside Imperial to own about 4 percent of the company, according to the statement.

Imperial shares rose 5 percent to 147.06 rand at the close of trading in Johannesburg, valuing the company at 30.5 billion rand ($2 billion). The stock has gained 23 percent this year.

Imperial’s financial adviser on the transaction is Standard Bank Group Ltd. and its legal adviser is Squire Patton Boggs, according to the statement. Phoenix and Palletways were advised by Lazard Ltd.

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