ULD manager CHEP Aerospace Solutions, formerly part of Australian investor Brambles, will become part of the Swedish equity firm EQT Infrastructure. The deal worth estimated US$130 million is expected to be completed soon, most likely in November.
CHEP was formed by Brambles in 2011 following its acquisition of four smaller container and pallet operators. It counts Qantas, AA and BA among its customers.
That’s good news for CHEP’s President, Ludwig Bertsch. Instead of flying all the way from Switzerland to Australia to coordinate strategic matters and capital projects with CHEP’s former owner Brambles, Ludwig will only have to take a short flight from Zurich to his new stakeholder’s headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden. Which saves him almost two days of travelling half way around the world and being hit by jetlag.
However, this is just a marginal aspect of the acquisition.
Significantly more important is how Ulrich Koellensperger, Director at EQT Partners and Investment Advisor to EQT Infrastructure, commented on the deal: "CHEP Aerospace Solutions provides critical infrastructure and services to the aviation industry and fits well with our strategy of investing in medium sized operating infrastructure companies with opportunities for additional growth and development.” Ulrich went on to say: “CHEP has a proven business model, an impressive customer base and a promising pipeline of prospective airline clients.” Having stated this he stressed that EQT will support CHEP Aerospace Solutions in growing its asset base as well as offer pooling, management, maintenance and repair to more airlines globally.
The acquisition comes as a surprise to market observers, since there were no indications of an impending change of ownership at CHEP. The service provider is doing well from all what’s known with Air Canada, BA, LATAM Cargo, Qantas or American Airlines belonging to its major clients.
In a release, EQT Infrastructure assures that they are committed to strengthen CHEP’s capabilities and provide access to valuable industry experience. They also said that the leadership team would remain in place and “continue to focus on providing world class customer service and innovative solutions that are creating sustainable value across the industry.”
In fact, CHEP has developed into a leading service provider over the years, making its way up in the ULD arena with great consistency. The range of services offered to airlines includes the pooling of ULDs, managing the flow of containers and pallets as well as repair and maintenance services.
According to the announcement, CHEP owns and manages roughly 100,000 ULDs and partners with over 90 carriers, both cargo and passenger, across a network of 48 global service centers and 420 airports.
CHEP gets a new name
The company will keep its headquarters in Switzerland, along with regional operation centers in the United Kingdom, Thailand and the USA as well as global service centers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Asia Pacific and the Americas. At an appropriate time, following the completion of the acquisition by EQT, CHEP Aerospace Solutions will be rebranded with its own unique identity. Further details on the future name and the timeline were not disclosed by EQT.
A final statement was given by CHEP’s President, Ludwig Bertsch: “We would like to place on record our thanks to the Brambles team whose support and expertise has enabled us to develop the world's leading ULD management network. We are excited to join EQT Infrastructure, one of the world's most respected infrastructure funds, which combines the very best people with the industry expertise in infrastructure management that will allow us to continue to grow and provide smarter solutions and unparalleled customer service to the aviation industry."
Heiner Siegmund / Michael Taweel