Cerberus Capital Management to acquire ground handler WFS in a €1.2bn deal

Global ground handler Worldwide Flight Services (WFS) is set to be acquired by an affiliate of Cerberus Capital Management in a deal worth €1.2bn.
Cerberus has confirmed that its subsidiary has entered into an agreement to acquire WFS from Platinum Equity. The sale is expected to close during Q4 2018, subject to regulatory approval and certain closing conditions.
Headquartered in Paris, WFS is the world’s largest air cargo handler and provides ground handling services with over €1.2bn in total revenues. WFS has a presence in 198 airport locations in 22 countries and serves over 300 customers.
"WFS is a market leader in aviation services and is positioned to benefit from attractive long-term industry growth," said Brett Ingersoll, head of global private equity and senior managing director of Cerberus.
He added:"Cerberus has extensive operational experience and a successful track record in aviation and we are excited to support WFS’s next stage of growth."
WFS chief executive Craig Smyth said: "WFS has transformed into a leading global aviation handling player in recent years through growth and operational initiatives. We believe that Cerberus is the ideal partner to support our continued transformation."
Craig Brooks, managing director of European private equity at Cerberus, commented: "We plan to partner with Craig Smyth, and WFS’s management team and 22,800 dedicated and hardworking employees, to enhance WFS’s growth and services. Cerberus has a longstanding presence in Europe, and WFS will be a fantastic addition to our growing portfolio."
“Through a combination of growth and operational initiatives, WFS has evolved and expanded significantly over the past three years and today enjoys record top-line and earnings performance,” said Platinum Equity Partner Louis Samson.
“The company’s success is a tribute to a strong partnership with a talented management team, and the dedication of hardworking employees all over the world. We are proud of everything we accomplished together. WFS is now well positioned to continue its growth trajectory in the years to come with an experienced and capable new partner.”
Platinum Equity said that during its ownership, WFS strengthened its leadership team, installed new financial controls and other best practices throughout the organisation, and expanded the company’s footprint.
In February 2016 WFS acquired Consolidated Aviation Services (CAS), one of the leading cargo handlers in the United States. Combined, they currently employ approximately 22,800 employees and serve 300 airlines at 198 airports in 22 countries on five continents.
The air cargo sector is attracting a range of non-sector investors as the airfreight industry prepares for growth  while enjoying booming volumes helped by the rise in e-commerce transactions.
Last week, in separate deal, cargo sales agent ECS was acquired by investment firm Naxicap Partners to help continue the GSSA’s acquisition strategy.
Naxicap said that in a market ripe for consolidation, offering a strong pool of build-up opportunities, the company intends to pursue an active strategy of acquisitions, "generating significant commercial synergies", while continuing to extend the range of services offered to clients, providing global and innovative solutions.

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