Knight Transportation, Inc. (NYSE:KNX) (“Knight”) and Swift Transportation Company (NYSE:SWFT) (“Swift”) today announced that their boards of directors have unanimously approved a merger of Knight and Swift in an all-stock transaction that will create the industry’s largest full truckload company. The combined company will be named Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings Inc. (“Knight-Swift”) and will trade under the ticker “KNX.”
This transaction combines under common ownership two long-standing industry leaders creating North America’s premier truckload transportation company with $5 billion in annual revenue and a “Top 5” truckload presence in dry van, refrigerated, dedicated, cross-border Mexico and Canada, and a significant presence in brokerage and intermodal. The holding company structure will enable the Knight and Swift businesses to operate under common ownership and share best practices, while maintaining distinct brands and operations. The company will remain headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona operating with approximately 23,000 tractors, 77,000 trailers, and 28,000 employees.
Under the terms of the definitive agreement each Swift share will convert into 0.72 shares of Knight-Swift by means of a reverse stock split. Each share of Knight will be exchanged for one Knight-Swift share. Based on the $30.65 closing price of Knight shares on April 7, 2017, the last trading day prior to the announcement, the implied value per share of Swift is $22.07. Upon closing of the transaction, Swift stockholders will own approximately 54 percent and Knight stockholders will own approximately 46 percent of the combined company. Based on Knight’s closing share price on April 7, 2017, the number of combined company shares expected to be outstanding after closing and the combined net debt of Swift and Knight as of December 31, 2016, the combined company would have an implied enterprise value of approximately $6 billion.
Knight is expected to be the accounting acquirer, and the transaction is expected to be accretive to adjusted earnings per share (“Adjusted EPS”) with expected pre-tax synergies of approximately $15 million in the second half of 2017, $100 million in 2018, and $150 million in 2019.
Knight Executive Chairman, Kevin Knight, said: “In Knight’s 26-year history, we have built a truckload company with industry leading margins and investment returns. When the two companies began discussions, we had four goals in mind: create a company with the best strategic position in our industry; identify significant realizable synergies that would create value for both sets of stockholders; create a business that over the long-term will operate at Knight’s historical margins and financial returns; and agree on a leadership and corporate governance framework that will benefit all stakeholders. I am confident we have achieved those goals.”
Swift Chairman, Richard Dozer, stated: “This is a terrific opportunity for our stockholders, who stand to benefit from the significant upside potential of this transaction. Indeed, by coming together under common ownership, the companies will be able to capitalize on economies of scale to achieve substantial synergies. This is an exciting chapter in the Swift story and everyone who is a part of it should be both proud of what we bring to the table and excited about what lies ahead. I am confident in this new team, in the new structure and in the future of Swift in the industry.”
Knight Chief Executive Officer, Dave Jackson, added: “Under this ownership structure, we will be able to operate our distinct brands independently with experienced leadership in place. We look forward to learning from each other’s best practices as we seek to be the most efficient company in the industry. We are dedicated to a seamless transition and ensuring continuity for our customers and professional Driving Associates.”
Swift Chief Executive Officer, Richard Stocking, stated: “I am proud of all Swift has accomplished and that it will be a significant part of this new venture, which brings together the most robust, respected and reliable truckload providers in North America. I am especially proud of the fact that both companies will remain devoted to delivering a better life to employees, customers, and communities. Throughout this transition, I encourage everyone to work together to continue building the Swift brand.”
Swift founder and controlling stockholder, Jerry Moyes, added: “I cannot think of a better combination. The Knight and Moyes families grew up together, and the Knights helped me build Swift before starting their own company and making it an industry leader in growth and profitability. I am confident that we have the right approach to maximizing the contribution of both teams, and I look forward to helping the Knight-Swift leadership team in any way I can to continue the legacy of both great companies.”