Knight: Raised stake in USA Truck to 11.3%

Posted: September 30, 2013 at 7:25 a.m.
Updated: September 30, 2013 at 7:35 a.m.

Knight Transportation Inc. reiterated Monday that it's disappointed in Van Buren-based USA Truck Inc.'s rejection of a $242 million buyout proposal that Knight made public last week and said it has increased its stake in USA Truck to 11.3 percent of the trucker's outstanding shares.

Phoenix-based Knight made public Thursday its $9-per-share cash offer that was rebuffed Sept. 6 by USA Truck’s board of directors. The $242 million deal, proposed last month, values the company’s equity at $95 million and includes assumption of $147 million in company debt. USA Truck said the offer "substantially undervalued" the company "in light of the initiatives undertaken by [its]

new management team."

Knight also said Monday that it has filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission an amendment to its Schedule 13D that discloses an ownership of 1,192,364 shares of USA Truck common stock, or about 11.3 percent of the over-the-road trucker's outstanding shares. Last week, Knight's filing said it possessed an about 8 percent ownership position.

"Since making our proposal public, we have had discussions with several of USA Truck's largest shareholders that have indicated their support for our proposal and have encouraged us to continue to take the necessary steps to acquire USA Truck," Knight said in the statement. "We continue to believe that a combination of Knight and USA Truck is better positioned to deliver value for and is in the best interest of all of Knight and USA Truck's stakeholders, and we are prepared to take the necessary steps to make this combination a reality."

A representative of USA Truck wasn't immediately available for comment.

USA Truck has been fighting running, consecutive quarterly losses for two years and is in the middle of a turnaround plan. It has put in place a stockholder-rights plan, known as a poison pill, to make hostile takeover attempts costly.

USA Truck and Knight Transportation each contends it has a plan that's in the best interest of the company's stakeholders.