September 16, 2014 / 2:31 PM / 5 years ago

Storage firm PODS Enterprises eyes $1 billion sale -sources

NEW YORK, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Eagle Merchant Partners, a private equity firm, is exploring a sale of PODS Enterprises Inc that could value the U.S. moving and storage company at about $1 billion, including debt, according to people familiar with the matter.

Atlanta-based Eagle Merchant, whose team came from bankrupt Bahrain investment firm Arcapita Bank BSCC, has hired investment bank Barclays Plc to assist with the PODS Enterprises sale process, one source said.

The sources asked not to be identified because the discussions were private. Spokespeople for PODS Enterprises, Eagle Merchant and Barclays did not respond to requests for comment.

Founded in 1998, PODS Enterprises delivers containers to customers who use them for moving or storing belongings. It operates in 48 U.S. states, Canada, Australia and Britain through its company-owned and franchise network.

The Clearwater, Florida-based company said on its website it has carried out more than 2 million deliveries and nearly 142,000 PODS containers, as big as 16 by eight feet, in service. It loads the containers onto its trucks through a patented hydraulic lift system it calls PODZILLA.

PODS was acquired by Arcapita in 2008 for $451.4 million. Arcapita filed for U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2012 under hedge fund pressure ahead of the repayment of a $1.1 billion loan that was compliant under Islamic law.

Arcapita’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy process was the first to be undertaken by a Gulf Arab entity. It also was the first time an Islamic legal ruling had been presented to a U.S. bankruptcy judge.

The process ensured Arcapita’s portfolio could be sold without going through a fire sale. Eagle Merchant took over the management of the U.S. companies in Arcapita’s private equity portfolio, including PODS.

Women’s retailer J. Jill, another Arcapita company, is also exploring a sale, sources said earlier this year.

Arcapita has hired JPMorgan Chase & Co to lead an initial public offering of Viridian Group IPO-VIRI.L in a deal that could give the Irish energy company an enterprise value, including debt, of nearly 1 billion pounds ($1.62 billion), Reuters reported last month.

In February, it also agreed to sell U.S.-based Varel International Inc, a manufacturer of drill bits for the oil and gas industry, to Sweden’s Sandvik AB for $740 million. (Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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