The Blackstone Group, an international private equity company with over $370 billion in assets under a management team headed by Stephen Schwarzman, has made a $3 billion-plus binding offer to acquire Americold, according to a report published in the New York Post on September 11.
The Atlanta, Georgia-headquartered acquisition target, a holding of the Yucaipa Companies investment firm headed by Ron Burkle, is the world’s largest cold storage warehousing logistics provider with more than 11,000 employees serving approximately 2,500 customers in the USA, Canada, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, China and Vietnam. It is said to have been up for sale since May.
“Some observers believe Burkle might choose to take his chances by cashing out of the company of 165 warehouses via the public markets,” wrote financial reporter Josh Kosman in a prelude to quoting a contrarian view from a source close to the situation who said: “I think there will not be a sale, and Burkle will take Americold public next year [in an IPO].”
The New York Post article continued: “Blackstone is believed to be the most logical and interested Americold suitor, although there is a chance another firm like KKR & Co. – which has an investment in Americold’s rival, Lineage Logistics – or China Investment Corp., which just bought warehouse operator Logicor, could pony up a higher offer.”
Neither Blackstone nor Yucaipa personnel commented on the speculation.
Americold Expands in Illinois
Meanwhile, Americold recently broke ground for a new facility at its site in Rochelle, Illinois, which currently is home for two conventional coldstores. The third warehouse, scheduled for completion by December of 2018, will be a 15.5 million-cubic-foot automated unit offering an additional 57,600 pallet positions to customers doing business in the Chicago area.
“Working with some of our key partners, we identified the opportunity to update and expand our campus just an hour east of Chicagoland, and to offer both automated and conventional storage and distribution options,” said Fred Boehler, Americold’s president and chief executive officer.
The additional facility will feature a 140-foot-high series of rooms equipped with an automated storage and retrieval system attached to a conventional warehouse format for maximum flexibility. The combined footprint of all three coldstores will exceed 33.5 million cubic feet and contain more than 115,000 pallet positions.