SATS acquires WFS for EUR 1.3 billion from Cerberus Capital Management affiliate

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Worldwide Flight Services (WFS) – world’s largest air cargo handler – has been acquired by aviation services provider SATS for EUR 1.3 billion. The Singapore based company has bought WFS from an affiliate of asset investor Cerberus Capital Management after they reached an agreement back in September 2022. The transaction has an enterprise value of EUR 2.25 billion.

WFS will now operate, though still headquartered in Paris, as a fully owned subsidiary of SATS. Craig Smyth (Chief Executive of WFS) will retain his post in the company, while reporting to Kerry Mok (President and Chief Executive of SATS), and an advisory board.

The acquisition received the support of 96.8% of SATS’ voting shareholders in January 2023 and obtained regulatory approvals in all relevant jurisdictions in February.

“Recent global events have highlighted the importance of supply chain resiliency and an interconnected global network of cargo handling capabilities that provides speed, traceability, and certainty to our customers. SATS and WFS will provide our customers with the critical global cargo handling capability, and the scale advantage for us to develop and pioneer new solutions that will enhance our customers’ competitiveness. We welcome the management team and employees of WFS into the SATS family. Our focus is now on accelerating value creation for our customers over the medium term.”

Kerry Mok (President and Chief Executive of SATS)

Considering WFS’ dominance in the US and Europe, and SATS’ sway in Asia, both of them coming together will create a first-of-its-kind global air cargo platform. Both entities will be able to leverage the scale and the network of stations across Asia, the Americas, and Europe to further enhance their operations. Together, they will operate with a global footprint of 201 cargo and ground handling stations in 23 countries, covering trade routes responsible for more than 50% of global air cargo volume. On the other hand, their customers will be served a bigger, broader platter of services, operational best practices, and integrated technology.

“Our combination with SATS enhances our ability to provide end-to-end trade solutions, which is increasingly critical to our global customers. Together, we will drive technology and service innovations while maintaining our industry-leading standards of safety and security. We are very excited about the value we can deliver for customers from our combined capabilities and broader network.”

Craig Smyth (Chief Executive of WFS)

The combined group operates in five of the top 10 cargo airports in North America and Europe respectively, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Frankfurt, and Paris, and four of the top 10 cargo airports in Asia, including Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, and Beijing.

Cerberus bought WFS In June 2018, in a deal worth EUR 1.2 billion. Their Senior Managing Director Craig Brooks commented: “We are incredibly proud to have partnered with WFS and its talented team. Over the past four and half years, WFS invested in its technology and operations, achieved tremendous growth and persevered through the Covid-19 pandemic. This strategic combination with SATS will support the company’s continued success and deliver great value for its customers.”

WFS, with annual revenues of EUR 1.8 billion, has more than 30,000 employees serving over 300 customers at 164 major airports in 18 countries on five continents. SATS has customers in over 60 locations and 14 countries across the Asia Pacific, UK, and the Middle East.