Private equity firm EQT Infrastructure II Fund has agreed to buy intermodal equipment provider Direct ChassisLink Inc. from investor Littlejohn & Co. for an undisclosed sum, a move that represents the latest shake-up in the provision of chassis for shippers, truckers, ocean carriers and railroads.
The sale of the third-largest provider of intermodal chassis follows several months after persistent cargo delays were reported nationwide due to shortages of operable equipment and prolonged efforts to create chassis pools to create more reliable equipment availability.
EQT said in a statement that Direct ChassisLink CEO Bill Shea and the rest of that company’s management team will stay on. TRAC Intermodal and Flexi-Van provide more chassis equipment than DCLI, whose fleet is about 120,000 units.
Littlejohn bought the chassis business from Danish shipping conglomerate Maersk Inc. in 2012. That company began the ongoing transition of chassis supply, which until 2009 had been provided in the United States at no charge to shippers and truckers by the ocean carriers. In current markets, chassis rental and leasing companies such as DCLI provide the majority of that intermodal equipment.
DCLI serves an estimated 3,300 customers across approximately 375 active rental locations. In addition, DCLI manages about 92,000 domestic containers owned by third parties through its differentiated asset-management platform, REZ-1.
“EQT Infrastructure funds have experience investing in the port sector in both Europe and North America,” said Alex Darden, a partner at EQT’s investment advisory firm. We have continued to look for other angles through which to invest in the companies and assets that benefit from the underlying macroeconomic trends that are increasing demand for transportation infrastructure.”
DCLI will be the seventh North American infrastructure investment by EQT after an expected completion during the second quarter. EQT’s largest asset holdings are in Europe.
The buyer’s statement said EQT adviser Michael Moore will become chairman of DCLI after the sale is completed.
DCLI has doubled the size of its fleet in the four years since the Littlejohn acquisition,
“We are excited to further grow the business with the support of EQT,” Shea said in a statement.