Sats said in talks to buy Worldwide Flight Services for up to $4.2 billion

SINGAPORE – Catering and gateway services provider Sats is in talks to acquire air cargo handler Worldwide Flight Services from its private equity owner Cerberus Capital Management for as much as US$3 billion (S$4.2 billion), people with knowledge of the matter said.

The Singapore-listed company has sounded out financing for the potential purchase, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private. An announcement could come as soon as in the coming weeks should the parties reach an agreement, one of the people said.

Deliberations are ongoing and details could still change, the people said. Representatives for Cerberus and Sats did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Trading in Sats shares was halted late Wednesday afternoon after the Bloomberg News report, pending an announcement. The counter was up three cents or 0.7 per cent to $4.09 before the trading halt.

The 6.375 per cent bonds issued by Worldwide Flight Services via a vehicle jumped by a record 6.7 cent to 91 cents on the euro, according to CBBT pricing compiled by Bloomberg. The notes were the day’s biggest winners among European junk-rated bonds in early trading.

Founded in 1971, Paris-based Worldwide Flight Services is the world’s largest air cargo handler operating in more than 160 major airports in over 20 countries, according to its website. The company also provides ground handling services as well as technical support to airlines. Its annual sales stood at  €1.3 billion (S$1.8 billion). Cerberus bought the French firm in 2018 for about  €1.2 billion from Platinum Equity.

Any deal will add to a wave of acquisitions betting on the rising demand for logistics services as global travel resumes. Singapore’s PSA International last December agreed to acquire BDP International, a transportation company, from US buyout firm Greenbriar Equity Group. BLOOMBERG

• With additional information from The Straits Times