Carlyle in $650m shipping exit

New York-based buyout firm Castle Harlan has agreed to buy Horizon Lines, the largest container shipping company in the US, from the global private equity house.

Washington, DC-based The Carlyle Group has agreed to sell Horizon Lines, an ocean transport company, to New York-based private equity firm Castle Harlan for $650 million (€541 million).

Carlyle acquired Horizon, formerly known as CSX Lines, in February 2003 from rail freight company CSX Corp. in a recapitalisation transaction worth $300 million. Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, Horizon maintains 16 vessels and ships containers from the U.S. mainland to Alaska, Hawaii/Guam and Puerto Rico. The company is the only vessel operator to serve all three of the major Jones Act trades, which are US federal regulations governing who has the ability to transport cargo between US ports.

Castle Harlan managing director Marcel Fournier said his firm expects Horizon’s trade lanes to continue to have moderate or steady growth. “We are going to parts of the world that are well-established and steady – essentially extended parts of the US. … The company is solid in the market and the largest in the three territories.”

Goldman, Sachs & Co. advised Carlyle on the transaction.

Carlyle made a splash on Friday after announcing the signing of an agreement to purchase Verizon Hawaii from Verizon Communications in a transaction valued at $1.65 billion. News reports said the deal will set the going rate of telephone lines still on the auction block.

At the beginning of this month, Castle Harlan made headlines as well when the firm agreed to purchase Caribbean Restaurants, the operator of 165 Burger King restaurants in Puerto Rico, for $340 million.