FedEx acquires Watkins Motor Lines

FedEx Corp. announced a deal to acquire Watkins Motor Lines, the largest privately held LTL carrier, for $780 million in cash.

Watkins, a privately held company based in Lakeland, Fla., will be rebranded FedEx National LTL and operate as a separate network within the FedEx Freight division as part of the deal, which is expected to be complete by next year.

The Memphis-based package delivery company has also agreed to acquire the assets of Watkins' business in Canada, Watkins Canada Express, which will be rebranded FedEx Freight Canada.

"Since its foundation in 2001, FedEx Freight has continued to grow and strengthen the financial returns of FedEx Corp.," said Alan Graf Jr., executive vice president and chief financial officer.

"We expect Watkins to follow in those footsteps. We believe that Watkins will achieve strong financial returns."

Representatives with Watkins did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment about the deal on Friday. Company officials say FedEx Freight and Watkins have complementary service offerings with the addition of Watkins' three-day or more long-haul service to FedEx Freight's next-day and second-day regional less-than-truckload service.

Founded in 1932, Watkins Motor Lines has a work force of about 10,000. It has 139 locations in 42 states and Puerto Rico and operates more than 3,400 late-model city and linehaul tractors and over 10,200 trailers.

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