Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings Inc. is acquiring Richmond, Va.-based Abilene Motor Express for an undisclosed sum, adding more capacity as strong shipping demand is driving up freight rates and carrier earnings.
The acquisition is the first to occur since Knight Transportation completed its purchase of Swift Transportation last September, marking the biggest consolidation in several years in U.S. trucking. Before the purchase, Swift was the largest carrier in the truckload market, and Knight was No. 2.
The combined business now holds about 2% of the highly fragmented market, according to estimates by the SJ Consulting research group, which said the biggest 25 carriers by revenue split only 13% of the market.
Abilene Motor Express includes 400 trucks and an estimated $100 million in annual revenue.
The trucking market has been growing rapidly as a robust U.S. economy has spurred shipping demand, leaving capacity for long-haul services tight and pushing companies to pay more to move goods.