Apollo Global to buy Direct ChassisLink in $2.5 billion deal: sources

(Reuters) - Buyout firm Apollo Global Management LLC has agreed to acquire Direct ChassisLink Inc, the largest chassis rental and leasing company in the United States, for about $2.5 billion, including debt, according to people familiar with the matter.

The deal represents a bet by Apollo on Direct ChassisLink’s dominant position in the transfer of shipping containers between ports and hubs for transport by rail or truck.

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based Direct ChassisLink has doubled in size since investment firm EQT Partners AB acquired it in 2016, according to EQT’s website, despite reduced trade flows driven by a drop in imports to and exports from China.

Apollo and EQT plan to announce the deal later on Thursday, the sources said, asking not to be identified ahead of an official announcement. The deal includes Direct ChassisLink subsidiary Blume Global, a logistics and digital supply chain management company, one of the sources added.

Apollo declined to comment, while EQT did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Direct ChassisLink owns or manages more than 226,000 marine and domestic chassis, and has 450 locations on or near key port facilities and intermodal hubs throughout the United States, according to its website.

In 2018, Direct ChassisLink acquired a fleet of approximately 73,000 domestic chassis from TRAC Intermodal.

Blume Global allows Direct ChassisLink customers to use a single information technology platform for reservations, tracking and billing of both chassis and containers.

Reporting by Harry Brumpton in New York; Editing by Himani Sarkar