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September 5, 2017 5:00 PM, EDT
United Road Services Purchased by Carlyle Group
McCann, Anderson McCann, Anderson

The Carlyle Group has acquired vehicle hauler United Road Services from Charlesbank Capital Partners, the companies announced Sept. 5.

Terms were not disclosed.

“The Carlyle Group’s global reach and expertise coupled with its reputation for helping companies thrive make it an exceptional investor partner,” said Kathleen McCann, chairman and CEO of United Road Services in Romulus, Mich. “We expect the Carlyle team will help us accelerate our disciplined growth and further enhance our ability to serve our customers.”

Current management will remain in place and continue to hold an unspecified equity stake in the business, officials said. Mary Petrovich, an operating executive at Carlyle and chairwoman of AxleTech International Holding, will join United Road’s board of directors.

United Road ranks No. 56 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America with revenue of $525 million in 2016. The company hauls more than 3 million new and used vehicles annually for manufacturers, retailers, finance and leasing companies, rental agencies, auctions, web-based logistics firms and individuals.

McCann said the company is on track to move more than 3.5 million vehicles in 2017, compared with 1.5 million in 2012.

“Our strategic growth platform was really turbocharged in late 2012 when we were acquired by Charlesbank,” McCann said in a statement Sept. 5. “They provided the capital, support and encouragement to expand our reach and capabilities — both organically and through the acquisition of a major competitor, which gave us a deeper presence in the Southeast and Southwest U.S.”

Vehicle haulers have been riding a wave of strong new car and truck sales in recent years, although not all carriers have been able to cash in on the trend as automakers continue to pressure suppliers for cost savings.

Most notably,  No. 48 Jack Cooper Holdings Corp., the largest vehicle hauler in North America, saw its share of the market for transporting new vehicles decline with the loss of business from Nissan. The company recently negotiated a deal to exchange $429.2 million in outstanding debt for stock to shore up its finances and avoid bankruptcy.

Jack Cooper Transport reported revenue of $667.8 million in 2016, a decline of 8.3% from the year before. Another major vehicle hauler, Cassens Transport, also reported a 2.9% drop in revenue to $317.6 million in 2016 from $327.2 million in 2015.

Mark Anderson, president and chief operating officer at United Road, said the company’s goal “is to be the supplier and employers of choice in the finished-vehicle logistics industry.”

“We want passionate, hardworking and smart people on our team,” Anderson said. “We work hard to ensure our customers trust United Road to move their cars safely, on-time and damage-free. This combination of talent and trust is what drives United Road’s success.”

Adam Glucksman, managing director at Carlyle Group, said the investment firm’s “deep transportation experience and network …will contribute meaningfully to United Road’s growth trajectory.”

Besides AxleTech International, which is a supplier of off-highway and specialty drivetrain systems and components, other transportation-related companies in the Carlyle Group portfolio of investments include:

• Addison Lee Group, a business car service in the United Kingdom

• Delhivery Logistics Private Ltd. in India

• Greater China Intermodal Investments and Shanghai ANE Juchuang Supply Chain Management Co. in China

• Hermes Transportes Blindados and Inca Rail in Peru

• Interlink Maritime Corp. in the United States

• J&J Africa in Mozambique

Charlesbank Managing Director and CEO Michael Choe also commented on United Road’s capabilities and potential for more growth.

“We have enjoyed working with Kathleen, Mark and the rest of the team to execute on key elements of our investment thesis, including implementing its national remarketing strategy, accelerating asset-light revenue growth and maximizing its technology platform to improve route efficiency,” he said. “We believe the company has both the people and the structure to support ongoing growth under new ownership.”