TFI Eyes Merger for Truckload Operations as Part of Spinoff
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TFI International's truckload operations could be merged with those of a competitor as part of plans to divide the Montreal-based company into two publicly traded entities, likely in 2025, Chairman and CEO Alain Bédard said Feb. 9.
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Speaking on TFI’s quarterly earnings call for analysts, Bédard said it would make sense to pair TFI’s specialty truckload operations with those of other players in the space, creating an entity of the appropriate size.
When the split takes place, TFI’s truckload operations will be separated from a combined less-than-truckload, package and courier and logistics business, the company’s top executive said as he filled analysts in on the prospects for the units.
In the final three months of 2023, TFI said its specialized truckload unit averaged 4,051 trucks and 10,402 trailers, while its conventional Canadian truckload operations averaged 1,072 trucks and 3,861 trailers.
The split will not take place in 2024, Bédard said. TFI’s focus in 2024 is closing the $1 billion purchase of Texas-based flatbed specialist Daseke unveiled in December and turning around the company’s U.S. LTL operations, he said.
Splitting TFI into two companies was first discussed publicly when TFI announced the Daseke deal.
A prolific dealmaker, Bédard expects to hold plenty of discussions about the truckload unit spinoff and any combinations in late 2024. The spinoff is likely to close by the end of 2025, said Bédard.
In addition, TFI could make more acquisitions even before the spinoff, he said.
“If something came along before the end of the fourth quarter … we will do it,” said Bédard. “Daseke is not a big rock in our shoe.”
The deal would be either in the specialty truckload space or in the U.S. logistics arena, Bédard said, adding: “We’re ready to look at it. We’re in.” TFI would be keenly eyeing a deal involving tank, flatbed or dump truck markets, he said.
“We really like specialty truckload,” he said.
TFI inked 12 acquisitions in 2023. Even before the deals, TFI ranked No. 4 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America.
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Among the companies welcomed to the TFI fold was British Columbia-based tank transport specialist Vedder Transportation Group and Pleasant Prairie, Wis.-based JHT Holdings, which transports Classes 6 through 8 trucks from manufacturing and final assembly plants to dealers and customers.
The final deal of the year — Daseke — was the biggest and Bédard spoke in glowing terms of the newest part of TFI during the call.
“These guys are running a pretty good operation in a very difficult [freight] environment,” he said. The Daseke deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2024.
One of the company’s last big acquisitions, the $800 million purchase in 2021 of UPS Freight, which became TForce Freight, did not go as smoothly. TFI ranks No. 6 on the TT LTL carriers list in North America.
The company posted net income of $131.4 million in the final three months of 2023, compared with a $153.5 million profit in the same period a year earlier, citing a weak freight environment.
TFI did not provide guidance for 2024, with Bédard saying this was because the market was soft and the Daseke acquisition was still underway. He added that he did not want to miss consensus estimates as was the case in a couple of quarters in 2023, when he confessed he and the TFI team were over-optimistic.
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