Francisco Partners, a global private equity firm that specializes in investments in technology companies. Since its launch over a decade ago, Francisco Partners has raised nearly $10 billion and invested in more than 75 technology companies and made over 100 follow-on acquisitions, making it one of the most active investors in the industry. “LeanLogistics is a leading provider of software-as-a-service (SaaS)-based transportation management systems that has grown strongly since its acquisition by Brambles in 2008, entering new geographies and adding key blue-chip customers,” said Brambles CEO Tom Gorman. Brambles bought LeanLogistics for $US45 million in 2008. “We are absolutely thrilled to have LeanLogistics join the Kewill team. Their solutions are feature rich, highly scalable and managed by a skilled team and we are excited to support the ongoing growth and investment in LeanLogistic’s platform. We believe our global platform will help accelerate LeanLogistics already impressive growth through leveraging our extensive European and Asian networks,” said Doug Braun, CEO of Kewill. “Our tenure with Brambles has provided us the opportunity to invest in our solution, expand into different countries, and has been a tremendous learning experience, but as we strive to deliver value for our customers every day, there is power in combining with a global supply chain execution company,” said Dan Dershem, President and CEO of LeanLogistics. LeanLogistics is a global solutions provider of SaaS transportation management system (TMS) applications and supply chain services enabled by the industry’s largest transportation network. The company delivers complete transportation planning, execution, settlement, and procurement, as well as visibility and business intelligence, to improve transportation processes, increase efficiency, and reduce costs. LeanTMS enables shippers to scale infrastructure and business processes while gaining efficiencies to improve service offerings. LeanLogistics consistently ranks among top logistics solution providers and continues to win numerous awards for customer service. Its clients include many of the top consumer and wholesale brands, manufacturers, and service providers in the world. Kewill, a worldwide leader in logistics software, empowers organizations to efficiently move goods and information across the global supply chain. Kewill supports supply chain execution activities for 7,500 companies in more than 100 countries. Brambles Limited is an Australia-based supply-chain logistics company. The company operates through three segments: Pallets, primarily serving the fast-moving consumer goods, fresh produce and beverage industries; Reusable Plastic or Produce Crates (RPCs), serving the fresh produce and food industry, and comprising the IFCO RPC and CHEP RPC pooling business, and Containers. Brambles is headquartered in Sydney, Australia, but operates in more than 60 countries, with its largest operations in North America and Western Europe. Brambles employs more than 14,000 people and owns more than 500 million pallets, crates and containers through a network of more than 850 service centers.]]>
Gett, the global on demand taxi app competing with Uber, has launched a bid to acquire Radio Taxis from Mountview House Group in a multi-million pound deal that will bring the total amount of Gett black cabs in London to 11,500 or half of all the licensed taxis in the city. “Our board unanimously supports the deal to become part of Gett. The future of the business as well as that of our drivers and clients is well served by becoming part of this exciting high tech brand, not least because of Gett’s world class mobile app,” said Geoffrey Riesel, chairman & CEO of Mountview House Group. The acquisition, which is subject to shareholder approval, will make Gett the UK’s biggest black cab app, with more drivers in London and its 24 other UK cities than any other company. In London the combination of Radio Taxis and Gett will give passengers access to more than 11,500 famous black cabs and their highly trained drivers, as well as Gett’s unique fixed fares which offer a discount on the meter price, confirmed before the journey begins. The cash deal will see Gett – which currently has operations in the US, Russia and Israel as well as the UK – acquire all three brands within Radio Taxis’ parent company, Mountview House Group. The Mountview House Group also operates Xeta, another black cab brand, as well as One Transport, the global transport solutions platform which provides corporate clients with access to vehicles in almost every country around the world. “Radio Taxis has a long, proud history and we are delighted to bring such a great business into the Gett family,’ said Remo Gerber, managing director of Gett in Western Europe. “Alongside our cutting edge technology it is going to help to make Gett an even more powerful, global force for both our corporate customers and members of the public. This deal will help even more more customers get access to our fantastic fixed fares which are always better than the meter – with discounts of up to 30% on the fare they would otherwise pay.” Gett, originally known as GetTaxi, was founded in 2011 by Israeli entrepreneurs Shahar Waiser, CEO, and Roi More, who developed a GPS-based application connecting customers and taxi drivers, enabling users to order a cab either via smartphone or the web. The app’s beta version started operating in Tel Aviv and was subsequently launched in London, Moscow and New York City. Waiser is a serial entrepreneur, who founded and built companies in the US and internationally. In 2000, he became the head of Russian operations at Comverse [NASDAQ: CMVT]. After moving to Silicon Valley in 2005 he founded and then sold Loyalize, a social engagement and loyalty startup based in San Francisco (acquired by Viggle [VGGL]).
“When he was 16 years old, Shahar (Waiser) Smirin boarded a train from Russia to Hungary and asked for political asylum. His parents stayed behind, and when he arrived, he did not have a penny to his name. He did, however, have a clear goal: to get to Israel. Now, (25 years later) he is one of the brightest technological entrepreneurs Israel has had,” says Haaretz.Gett offers fast and professional taxi cabs with the fixed fares option being up to 30% better than the meter for longer journeys. Fixed fares will be rolled out to more UK cities in 2016. Available on iPhone and Android, Gett is the go-to app for instantly booking a black car, “and soon for getting what you need on-demand, whenever you need it,” says the company. “The same app that connects you to black cars will soon allow you to ‘Gett’ other things – from beauty and home services, to dry cleaning and food & drink – all with the same high quality service. We’re thrilled to be able to offer you even more products and services in just one tap, using the same Gett technology that has empowered riders to take 50 million journeys across the globe.” Gett’s revenues grew by 300% in 2015 and are projected to reach $500 million (£350 million) globally in 2016. Its clients already include half of the Fortune 500 companies around the world and to date it has raised more than $200 million (£140 million) in funding. Mountview House Group The Group has a rich and varied history. It was originally formed in 1953 as Radio Taxicabs (Southern) Ltd. It was an independent driver co-operative of Licensed London Black Taxi Cabs and their taxi owner drivers. The name Mountview hails as a historical nickname from the original 1953 taxi company telephone number Mountview 3232. When asked, taxi drivers would say that they were members of the “Mountview” circuit. In 2004 the co-operative demutualized and diversified and became Radio Taxis Group Limited. It signed up to the City Code as a consequence of the exclusive share trading market arrangements where shares are traded quarterly online by auction. Later in its history in 2005, Radio Taxis become the world’s first transport company to become CarbonNeutral. This was achieved by reducing the Group’s output of Carbon and then through a strict and certified audit, offsetting the remainder. Soon after demutualization and for the first time in its history, the company acquired Xeta, a smaller niche radio taxi circuit. In 2006/7 the One Transport platform was developed and its UK wide ground transport management system and network of 400 Private Hire, taxi, courier and bus companies was established. The very first customer of One Transport was BBC transport and very quickly One Transport took over the management online of the entire BBC ground transport requirement for the whole of the UK. It was said that in its very first year of operation, One Transport saved the BBC over £1M. In more recent history, One Transport won the annual BBC Procurement Award for the Best Supplier Relationship (2013/14). One Transport was short listed at the Buying Business Travel awards, in both 2013 and in 2014 as a finalist for best Ground Transportation Company. In 2014, Radio Taxis Group changed its name to Mountview House Group, however the three subsidiary businesses continue as before, for Radio Taxis, Xeta and One Transport its business as usual.]]>
Virgin America Inc. (NASDAQ: VA) is reaching out to potential buyers about a sale of the company, and is working with a financial adviser after receiving takeover interest, Bloomberg reported last week. The move is largely driven by the Burlingame, California-based low-cost airline’s largest shareholders, the UK Virgin Group‘s affiliate VX Holdings LP, and New York hedge fund Cyrus Capital‘s affiliate Cyrus Aviation Holdings LLC. On November 2014, Virgin America raised $306 million in an IPO priced at $23 a share, led by Barclays and Deutsche Bank, valuing the company at about $973 million. Last Friday, March 24, the company’s shares closed at $34.17, with a total market capitalization of $1.51 billion. Several major global private equity firms are likely to bid for the airline. “Private equity investors are familiar with different leverage options making them natural investors in the aircraft leasing space,” noted World Finance magazine. “Given the prevalence of operating leasing, the benefits over aircraft ownership have been clearly recognized by airlines,” according to WF. “Since the early 1970s there has been an increasing trend for airlines around the world to rely on operating leasing as an alternate means to managing their financing and fleet requirements for commercial aircraft.” Moreover, according to research by The Airline Monitor, air traffic has historically doubled every 15 years and is projected to have an average annual growth rate of 4.8 percent for the next 20 years, thereby doubling traffic again over the next 15 years. Air traffic has exceeded GDP growth by approximately 1.9 times over the past 40 years and the sector has been very resilient to external shocks. “Private equity’s first meaningful airline foray was the leveraged buyout of Northwest Airlines in 1989 by Wings Holdings, an investment group organized by Al Checchi and Gary Wilson,” commented Rick Schifter, a senior adviser and former partner at private equity firm TPG, and board member of American Airlines Group, in an editorial opinion for The Wall Street Journal. “Northwest Airlines thereafter focused on controlling costs and improving customer service—steps which led to record profits in the late 1990s. Still, 9/11 had a devastating impact on the industry. The terrorist attacks, and the subsequent growth of low-cost carriers, forced Northwest into Chapter 11 in 2005. It emerged as an independent company and subsequently merged with Delta in 2008. The CEO of Delta at the time was Richard Anderson—a former CEO of Northwest in the Wings Holdings years.” “The second major private-equity investment in the airline industry was by Air Partners. This group, formed by David Bonderman, Jim Coulter and Bill Price, took a controlling stake in Continental Airlines in April 1993. Eighteen months after that transaction closed, the airline was teetering on the edge of a third Chapter 11 filing,” said Schifter. “Continental merged with United Airlines in 2010 and, although Continental was the smaller company, its CEO, Jeff Smisek, headed the merged company. Bonderman, Coulter and Price went on to establish the private-equity firm Texas Pacific Group, now TPG,” he added. “It is no coincidence that the CEOs of the three largest airlines today rose to prominence while their companies were controlled by private-equity firms.” “Private equity investors have long been attracted to the investment rationales of operating lessors,” says Franklin L Pray, president and CEO of Intrepid Aviation. “For example, Cerberus Capital Management, a US based private equity firm, invested in Dutch-based commercial aircraft lessor AerCap, which it took public in 2006. AerCap has subsequently grown to be the largest aircraft lessor in the world through the acquisition of International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC) from AIG. Cerberus successfully completed its exit from the investment in 2012.” “Aircastle, another publicly traded commercial aircraft lessor, was founded by private equity firm Fortress Investment Group in 2004 and taken public in 2006,” Pray added. “In 2006 Terra Firma, a UK based private equity firm, acquired AWAS for $2.5bn in cash plus the assumption of liabilities from Morgan Stanley,” he commented further. “In 2007 Terra Firma then further agreed to purchase Pegasus Aviation from the US private equity firm Oaktree Capital Management, and combined AWAS and Pegasus to create the new AWAS, then the world’s third-largest aircraft leasing business.” “More recently, Avolon Aerospace Leasing, a lessor founded in 2010, backed by private equity firms Cinven, CVC Capital Partners and Oak Hill Capital Partners, successfully took the business public in December 2014,” said Pray. “Private equity has provided capital to the industry when the public markets were not prepared to do so, whether to help carriers emerge from Chapter 11 (Continental and America West), to start up a new business (JetBlue in 1999), to strengthen the regional jet model (Republic Airways in 1998), or to transform a business model (Spirit Airlines in 2006),” concluded Schifter. Virgin America, known for its fancy aircraft interiors, including on-board WiFi, interactive video displays and purple lighting, licenses its brand from billionaire Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. However, the British entrepreneur is only permitted to own a minority stake under 25% in the American airline. U.S. law requires that domestic airlines remain under the control of U.S. citizens, with no more than 25% of the voting stock being held by foreign citizens. As a matter of policy, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) reviews any proposed ownership changes of over 10 percent of the voting stock of any U.S.-domiciled airline. Virgin America was tentatively cleared for take-off by the DOT in 2007, and was subsequently given full clearance in 2010, after ruling that the airline and its new ownership structure “will remain fully compliant with U.S. ownership laws.” On March 16, 2015, Virgin America filed an S-1 registration with the SEC, disclosing the intention of its largest shareholders, Virgin Group’s affiliate VX Holdings LP, and Cyrus Capital’s affiliate Cyrus Aviation Holdings LLC, to sell 4,852,942 shares of the company in a secondary offering led by Barclays and Deutsche Bank. Prior to the offering, the Virgin Group and Cyrus held 48% of Virgin’s voting common stock and 56.2% of its total equity interests. New York-based hedge fund Cyrus Capital Partners LP and affiliates, have been the airline’s principal U.S. investors since 2010. As of December 31, 2015 Cyrus Capital Partners held a 23.8% interest in Virgin America, down from 29% prior to the March 2015 S-1 offering. Cyrus Capital Partners, previously known as Och-Ziff Freidheim Capital Management until 2005, was founded in 1999 by Stephen Cyrus Freidheim, a former managing director and partner at Bankers Trust Company of New York, where he headed its Capital Management Group from 1993 to 1999. He serves as an independent director of Virgin America since 2006. He also held leadership roles at Nomura Securities International and Peabody & Co. Inc., and is a member of The Council on Foreign Relations. He earned a B.A. in Economics from Yale University, and was the president of the Yale Alumni Association of Greenwich. His father Cyrus F. Freidheim, Jr. is also a member of Virgin America’s board of directors since 2006. From 2006 to 2009, Cyrus F. Freidheim, Jr. served as CEO and president of Sun-Times Media Group Inc., a parent company of Sun-Times News Group (formerly Conrad Black’s Hollinger International Inc.), which filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March 2009. Previously, he served as CEO and president of Chiquita Brands International Inc., and held various leadership roles at management consulting firm Booz Allen & Hamilton Inc., including president of BoozAllen International. Cyrus Capital Partners is an SEC registered investment adviser with offices in New York and London. The firm has approximately $4 billion in assets under management. Cyrus invests on a global basis in securities and loans issued by corporates and sovereigns. It invests across the entire capital structure of companies, takes long and short positions in debt, equity and derivative instruments traded publicly and over the counter, directly structures capital solutions for companies, and leads capital raises. Cyrus is an active investor that is deep value-focused and experienced in legal and process-oriented opportunities. Cyrus seeks to generate high absolute returns over a full credit and business cycle. The Cyrus team is comprised of professionals with skill sets including bankruptcy and restructuring, industry, legal, private equity, capital structure, derivatives, trading, and capital markets. The Flagship Cyrus Funds are currently hard closed. Launched in 2007, Virgin America has a fleet of 60 Airbus single-aisle aircraft consisting of 10 Airbus A319s and 50 Airbus A320s. As of December 31, 2015, it provided services to 23 airports in the United States and Mexico. The company was formerly known as Best Air Holdings, and changed its name to Virgin America in November 2005. San Francisco International Airport is Virgin America’s main hub, but the airline also has focus city hubs at Los Angeles International Airport and Dallas Love Field. Virgin America has captured a host of travel industry best-in-class awards, including “Best Domestic Airline” in both Condé Nast Traveler’s Reader’s Choice Awards, and Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards, for the past eight consecutive years. As of 2016, Virgin America is the only airline in the United States with a 4-Star Skytrax airline rating.]]>