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Founder plans to buy Swift Transportation

January 22, 2007|From the Associated Press

PHOENIX — A founder of Swift Transportation Co. plans to buy the company for $2.74 billion, regaining control of the third-largest trucking company in the nation.

Jerry Moyes, who founded Phoenix-based Swift more than 40 years ago with his father and brother, said he reached a deal Friday to pay $31.55 a share in cash to take the company private. His group, which includes family members, also would assume $332 million in debt.

"I'm still a young 62, and I want to get back in the thrill of the hunt and get involved," Moyes said.

Swift shares closed Friday at $27.74. They have traded in a 52-week range of $21.25 to $33.66.

Pending shareholder approval, the deal is set to be finalized in the second quarter.

Swift's board of directors unanimously approved the transaction, the company said.

"We believe the all-cash, $31.55-per-share price represents a fair value for the company and is in the best interest of all shareholders," Chairman Jock Patton said in a statement.

The board had rejected Moyes' cash offer of $29 a share in November but left the door open for a higher bid.

Moyes said he had considered regaining control of Swift since being forced out as chief executive in October 2005 after a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into insider trading.

He paid a $1.26-million settlement without admitting or denying wrongdoing and was removed from his post two months before he had planned to retire.

Through various trusts, the Moyes family controls about 40% of Swift, according to SEC filings.

Swift Transportation began with one truck in 1966, transporting steel through the Port of Los Angeles to Arizona and exporting cotton from Arizona to Los Angeles. By 1990, the company had annual revenue of $125 million and 800 trucks. It now counts 17,900 trucks and nearly $3.2 billion in revenue.

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