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Business Observer Monday, Dec. 22, 2014 3 years ago

Canadian pension fund buys PODS

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Moving and storage firm's headquarters will remain in Clearwater.

CLEARWATER — The Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan acquired Clearwater-based PODS Enterprises Inc., a global leader in the containerized moving and storage industry founded in 1998 by a onetime firefighter and paramedic.

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed. The Wall Street Journal, citing a Reuters story, reports PODS explored a deal earlier this year that could value the firm at $1 billion, including debt. Teacher's acquired PODS from Bahrain-based private equity firm Arcapita, which bought PODS in 2008 for $451 million.

PODS will maintain its Clearwater headquarters after the sale, which is likely to close in the first quarter of 2015, according to a press release. “We are excited about our new ownership by Teachers' and are also appreciative of the support we received from Arcapita and our board of directors the past seven years,” PODS President and CEO John Koch says in the statement. “We look forward to working with Teachers' to continue our growth and our commitment to our customers.”

PODS operates its portable moving and storage business in more than 150 locations, both corporate and franchise owned, in the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. The firm has around 1,000 corporate employees. Entrepreneur Peter Warhurst, who was a firefighter and paramedic in Largo before going into business, founded the company, which stands for Portable On Demand Storage.

The Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan is the largest single-profession pension plan in Canada, with $140.8 billion in net assets through Dec. 31, 2013. It invests the pension fund's assets and administers the defined-benefit pensions of 307,000 active and retired teachers in Ontario.

“We are impressed with the PODS management team, growth trajectory, position in the marketplace and strategies to increase market share,” Lee Sienna, vice president of Long-Term Equities at Teachers,' says in the statement. “Our access to capital and focus on long-term returns will help drive sustained growth for PODS.”

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