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Published: Friday, 6/17/2005

Brink's said to be selling BAX Global

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

At the urging of its largest shareholder, the parent of BAX Global reportedly is seeking a buyer for the cargo firm whose sole air hub is at Toledo Express Airport.

While the hub is critical to the airport, it was unclear yesterday whether a new owner would keep the operation or close it.

MMI Investments LP asked Brink's Co. directors in April to sell BAX Global to boost the firm's sagging stock price.

BAX has had $50 million in losses over five years, and its sale could raise up to $500 million, MMI said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Brink's has put BAX up for sale, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter.

A BAX spokesmen declined to comment. BAX had revenues of $2.4 billion last year.

What a sale could mean to Toledo Express, through which heavy cargo also is moved by truck, is uncertain.

The hub has 18 flights a night Monday through Thursday and employs 1,000.

Its future depends on who the buyer is, said James Hartung, president of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, which owns the airport.

He said he was unaware BAX Global is for sale.

"We have so little information on this right now," he said. "It's much too early to panic or to celebrate."

Toledo Express director Paul Toth did not return repeated calls seeking comment.

The former Burlington Air Express opened a sorting hub at the airport in 1991.

In recent years, though, BAX's business at Toledo Express has dropped as it offered direct-service flights in high-volume markets, bypassing the hub, and shifted more freight to trucks.

A handful of large, integrated transportation firm in the United States and abroad would be interested in buying BAX, said James Clement, an analyst at Sidoti & Co. LLC in New York.

Investment firms also could enter any bidding, he added.

"My sense is, in general, a strategic buyer would probably be able to offer a higher price than a financial buyer," Mr. Clement said.

Wall Street, meanwhile, favored the idea of selling BAX. Brink's stock closed yesterday up $4.31 a share at $36.26 on the New York Stock Exchange.

MMI said the stock, after a BAX sale, should trade for $42 to $51 a share.

Contact Julie M. McKinnon at:

jmckinnon@theblade.com

or 419-724-6087.



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