Case Study

Ports America


The company

  • Region: USA
  • Sector: Industrials
  • Stage: Special situations
  • Type: Secondary
  • Fund Vintage: 2017
  • Exit Type: Secondary budget
  • Highlights:

Private Equity Manager (GP)

Case study

About the company

Ports America is the largest terminal operator and stevedore (loading and unloading of ships) in North America, handling c.26% of US container throughput. The company provides terminal management and a full range of stevedoring and labour services at more than 70 locations in over 33 ports.

Investment rationale

  • Diversified portfolio of port terminals based across all major ports in the USA with a presence on all three coastlines: the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Gulf coasts.
  • Attractive valuation entry point that was lower than both the long-term sector average and single terminal transaction multiples at the time.

Our relationship

  • Pantheon has a long-standing relationship with the private equity manager and has evaluated multiple secondary opportunities with Oaktree Capital Management (“OCM”).
  •  Pantheon also holds an advisory board seat with OCM.

Active management and value creation

  • The new management team that was implemented by OCM has been actively involved in transforming the business from a low-margin stevedoring provider to a higher margin container terminal operator with long-term contracts. The management team was supported by experienced professionals from OCM and was responsible for undertaking transformational acquisitions, removing redundancies and building a network of contracts to ensure stable cash flows.
  • During the investment period, EBITDA margin expansion from 12% to 23% was achieved through:
    • Cost savings through reductions in back office and support services.
    • Exit of low margin sites.
    • Optimisation of terminal layouts and expansion of terminal capacities.


  • Ports America was acquired by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board in November 2021, providing a full exit for OCM and for PIP.
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