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Well, this is the final edition of Hooked Up to be published in 2013. I hope you’re reading it with your feet up, in front of the fireplace, a beverage at your side. And I really hope I’m doing the same. I want to wish all our readers a Merry Christmas and happy holidays and a prosperous 2014. Now, let’s get on to the news, because this is an industry that never fully takes a break.

In the Dec. 10 edition of Hooked Up, I referred to comments from industry analyst David Newman of Cormark Securities, who felt TransForce still had much to gain by inserting itself into the bidding for Vitran’s Canadian operations. However, David suggested TransForce felt Manitoulin’s offer of $6/share was a bit “rich” and might be content to stand on the sidelines. As first reported on, TransForce was not willing to sit idly by and watch Vitran go to Manitoulin. Instead, it submitted at the end of closing Dec. 20, a “superior offer” of $6.50/share.

Manitoulin now has just five business days to sweeten its own offer, or to walk away. If it chooses to walk, the company will get a cool $4 million in termination fees for its troubles. No matter how this shakes out, Manitoulin seems poised to walk away a winner. But David thinks TransForce, too, can emerge a winner if it closes the deal.

“Clearly, TransForce has line of sight on good synergies in terms of corporate costs, SG&A, elimination of public company costs and potential asset rationalization, as well as improved pricing,” David told us. “It could be an accretive deal for TransForce at these levels. The TransForce-Vitran combination is a good fit in terms of geography, customers and terminals, especially with Clarke, which was recently acquired by TransForce.” You know where to go for the latest news and reaction:

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