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WESCO International, Inc., a leading provider of electrical, industrial, and communications MRO and OEM products, construction materials, advanced supply chain management and logistics services, and Anixter International Inc. (NYSE: AXE) ("Anixter"), a leading global distributor of Network & Security Solutions, Electrical & Electronic Solutions, and Utility Power Solutions, today announced that their boards of directors have unanimously approved a definitive merger agreement under which WESCO will acquire Anixter in a transaction valued at approximately $4.5 billion. Anixter's prior agreement to be acquired by Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, LLC ("CD&R") has been terminated, following CD&R's waiver of its matching rights under the agreement.
Mr. John J. Engel, WESCO's Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer, commented, "The transformational combination of WESCO and Anixter will create a premier electrical and data communications distribution and supply chain services company. With increased scale and complementary capabilities, we will be ideally positioned to digitize our business, expand our extensive services portfolio and supply chain offerings, and deliver solutions to our customers whenever and wherever they need them around the globe. Given the enhanced strategic profile and competitiveness of the combined company, we are confident we will deliver improved growth and earnings, and exceptional cash flow generation. We look forward to welcoming Anixter's talented associates to the WESCO team as we embark on this next chapter and create substantial value for our stockholders, customers, suppliers, and people."
"Today's announcement is the culmination of a comprehensive process that showed, from the start, what a strong business the team at Anixter has built," said Sam Zell, Chairman of the Anixter board of directors. "The agreement with WESCO is a great result for our stockholders who will receive significant near-term value and stand to benefit from the combined company's growth and prospects."
"This is the result of a very thorough process to determine the value of our company," said Bill Galvin, Anixter's President and Chief Executive Officer. "It's also a recognition of the enormous value created by our talented people, Anixter's deep industry relationships, innovative technology solutions, and global reach. Looking ahead, the combination with WESCO will allow the combined company to build on our complementary capabilities and create new ways to serve customers and partners."
Compelling Strategic and Financial Rationale
- Enhances Scale and Global Position. The combined company will have pro forma 2019E revenues of approximately $17 billion and will be a leading electrical and data communications distributor in North America. With an extensive global reach and increased international exposure, approximately 12% of revenues will be generated outside of North America. The increased scale will enable the combined company to accelerate digitization strategies and provide a platform for growth in attractive emerging markets.
- Broadens and Diversifies Product and Services Portfolio. The combined company will have a comprehensive and balanced portfolio that unites WESCO's capabilities in industrial, construction, and utility with Anixter's expertise in data communications, security, and wire and cable. Bringing together the companies' complementary products, services, technologies, and solutions is expected to create significant cross-selling opportunities, strengthening the combined company's customer value proposition and supplier relationships.
- Delivers Substantial Synergies. WESCO expects to realize annualized run-rate cost synergies of over $200 million by the end of year three through efficiencies in corporate and regional overhead, including duplicative public company costs, branch and distribution center optimization, and productivity in procurement, field operations, and supply chain. In addition, WESCO expects incremental sales growth opportunities to result by cross-selling the companies' complementary product and services offerings to an expanded customer base and capitalizing on the enhanced capabilities across both networks.
- Provides Immediate Earnings Accretion and Significant Free Cash Flow Generation. The combination is expected to be accretive to WESCO's earnings in the first full year of ownership and, with the realization of synergies, substantially accretive thereafter. WESCO also expects the transaction to generate significant margin expansion and EPS growth. The combined company will have strong free cash flow generation, supporting continued investments in the business and enabling a return of capital to stockholders in the future.
- Ability to Rapidly De-Lever. At closing, WESCO estimates that its pro forma leverage on a net debt to EBITDA basis will be approximately 4.5x. WESCO intends to utilize the strength of the combined company's cash flows, including significant synergies, to reduce its leverage quickly and ultimately intends to be within its long-term target leverage range of 2.0x to 3.5x within 24 months post-close.
Consideration Terms and Financing
Under the terms of the agreement, each share of Anixter common stock will be converted into the right to receive $70.00 in cash, 0.2397 shares of WESCO common stock, and preferred stock consideration consisting of 0.6356 depositary shares, each whole share representing a fractional interest in a newly created series of WESCO perpetual preferred stock.
The common stock consideration is subject to downside protection, such that if the average market value of WESCO common stock prior to closing is between $47.10 per share and $58.88 per share, then the cash consideration paid at closing will be increased commensurately by up to $2.82 per share, such that the reduction in value of the WESCO common stock is offset by an increase in the cash consideration within that range. $2.82 per share will also be paid if the value of WESCO stock is below $47.10.
The preferred stock consideration consists of 0.6356 depositary shares, with each whole depositary share representing a 1/1,000th interest in a share of WESCO Series A cumulative perpetual preferred stock, with a liquidation preference of $25,000 per preferred share and a fixed dividend rate calculated based on a spread of 325 basis points over the prevailing unsecured notes to be issued to effect the transaction (the dividend rate of the Series A preferred stock is expected to be approximately 9.25%). The fixed dividend rate will be subject to reset and the Series A preferred stock will have a five year non-call feature. WESCO has agreed to list the depositary shares representing the newly created series of preferred stock on the New York Stock Exchange, and the security is expected to receive equity treatment from the rating agencies. The 0.6356 depositary share to be issued in the merger per share of Anixter common stock is valued at $15.89 based on the liquidation preference of the underlying interest in the Series A preferred stock represented thereby.
Under the terms of the merger agreement, WESCO may elect to substitute additional cash consideration to reduce the amount of the preferred stock consideration on a dollar-for-dollar basis based on the value of the liquidation preference of the preferred stock consideration.
WESCO has obtained fully committed debt financing from Barclays and intends to offer a combination of debt, equity, and equity-content securities between signing and closing to fund the required cash consideration of the transaction. At closing, WESCO estimates that its pro forma leverage on a net debt to EBITDA basis will be approximately 4.5x.
Approvals and Timing to Close
The transaction is subject to Anixter stockholder approval, receipt of regulatory approval in the United States, Canada, and certain other foreign jurisdictions, as well as other customary closing conditions. WESCO and Anixter currently anticipate completing the transaction during the second or third quarter of 2020.
Entities associated with Sam Zell, Chairman of the Anixter board, which own approximately 10.8% of the outstanding shares of Anixter common stock, have entered into a voting agreement with WESCO, pursuant to which they have agreed, among other things, to vote their shares of Anixter common stock in favor of the merger.