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What Swift and Knight Transportation Stand to Gain From Their Merger

Chris Lange

Swift Transportation Co. (SWFT) and Knight Transportation Inc. (KNX) are each watching their stock rise to kick off the week after it was announced that these companies will merge. Both boards of directors unanimously approved the all-stock transaction, which ultimately will form the industry’s largest full truckload company.

Under the terms of deal, each Swift share will convert into 0.72 shares of Knight-Swift by means of a reverse stock split. Each share of Knight will be exchanged for one Knight-Swift share. Based on the $30.65 closing price of Knight shares on April 7, the implied value per share of Swift is $22.07.

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After the transaction closes, Swift stockholders will own roughly 54% and Knight stockholders will own 46% of the combined company. The combined company is expected to have an implied enterprise value of approximately $6 billion.

Knight is expected to be the accounting acquirer, and the transaction is expected to be accretive to EPS with expected pretax synergies of $15 million in the second half of 2017, $100 million in 2018, and $150 million in 2019.

Knight's executive chairman, Kevin Knight, commented:

In Knight’s 26-year history, we have built a truckload company with industry leading margins and investment returns. When the two companies began discussions, we had four goals in mind: create a company with the best strategic position in our industry; identify significant realizable synergies that would create value for both sets of stockholders; create a business that over the long-term will operate at Knight's historical margins and financial returns; and agree on a leadership and corporate governance framework that will benefit all stakeholders. I am confident we have achieved those goals.

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Swift Chairman Richard Dozer added:

This is a terrific opportunity for our stockholders, who stand to benefit from the significant upside potential of this transaction. Indeed, by coming together under common ownership, the companies will be able to capitalize on economies of scale to achieve substantial synergies. This is an exciting chapter in the Swift story and everyone who is a part of it should be both proud of what we bring to the table and excited about what lies ahead. I am confident in this new team, in the new structure and in the future of Swift in the industry.

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The newly combined company will be named Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings and will trade under the ticker KNX. The company will remain headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, operating with roughly 23,000 tractors, 77,000 trailers and 28,000 employees.

Shares of Swift were last seen up 22% at $24.52, with a consensus analyst price target of $26.60 and a 52-week trading range of $14.31 to $27.18.

Knight shares were up 14% to $35.00. The 52-week range is $24.36 to $38.80, and the consensus price target is $32.92.

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