WFS Takeover by Platinum Perfected

The final green light to the takeover of Worldwide Flight Services (WFS) by the U.S.-based Platinum Equity concern was given towards the end of last week.
It was not expected that equity would face any challenge to its takeover of the WFS business previously held by LBO, the French equity house.

WFS manages over 4 million tons of cargo a year at 145-plus airports  -  company courtesy
WFS manages over 4 million tons of cargo a year at 145-plus airports - company courtesy

It is however surely a relief to WFS President & CEO, Olivier Bijaoui and his management team that the final tick-off on the list has been completed.
This leaves WFS free to finalize plans to expand their global reach even further and speed up negotiations with whichever future new entities they are planning to tie-in with.

It will be interesting to see what plans Mr Bijaoui will take out of his drawer now that the green light has been given.
When the deal was originally announced in May of this year Olivier Bijaoui made it clear that he and his team had various new plans on hold for expanding and enhancing their business portfolio.

At last week’s announcement Mr Bijaoui was quoted as saying that “this is a proud day for WFS and the best possible news for our customers and employees all over the world. It’s the start of a new and exciting chapter in our long history and with Platinum Equity’s operational support and financial strength we can now build on the growth we have achieved in recent years.”

It can only be assumed that Platinum has agreed on strong financial support for WFS expansion.

Fraport Cargo Services was a first move
It is no secret that Olivier’s heart lies with the air cargo handling industry.
Originally founded in 1971, WFS has advanced under Mr Bijaoui’s leadership to become not only the world’s largest air cargo handler, but also a large player in the passenger ground handling and technical services scene.

Olivier Bijaoui
Olivier Bijaoui

The first move after the original change of ownership notification was that WFS announced they were to take over 51 percent of Fraport Cargo Services (FCS), the Frankfurt-based airport cargo handling entity. This agreement still has to be officially sanctioned and ratified, but was a move which surprised many in the industry.
The fact that Fraport was willing to give an outsider a majority share lead many to believe that the largest German airport operator was only too willing to pull out of the cargo handling scene.
Is this also a signal with regards to passenger and ramp handling and will their new partner WFS be a leading contender for taking over this segment as well?

FRA cargo volumes fell in September
Cargo is still facing a difficult year and that’s no exception in Frankfurt either.
Figures released today (12 Oct.) by Fraport show that cargo volumes fell by 4.7% during September, down to just over 170,000 tons.
Much of this drop was attributed to the continuing weak Far East market and declines in Latin and North American traffic.
Worrying figures for everybody, but not something we feel will affect WFS’s plans for future expansion in FRA and maybe other German cities.

It will indeed be very interesting to follow developments within WFS in the coming months and see which might be the next candidates for cooperation or takeover by this successful company acting globally for long.
Platinum’s worldwide operational expertise within its transportation, logistics and distribution portfolio as well as their investment war chest of US$ 3.8 billion, will surely put an added shine on future WFS moves.

John Mc Donagh

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