Haulier family in line for $1bn from sale of its global business
A LIMERICK family is lining up for a $1bn (€750m) sale of the global empire they started as a local haulage business in the west of Ireland.
Brian Enright (41) and his father Michael (65) are set to make their biggest "haul" yet by selling a company that has evolved into global logistics giant Syncreon.
The Enrights have maintained a low profile through decades of business success.
They are best known as the family behind Walsh Western, whose trucks were once a familiar sight on Irish roads.
US banking giants JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley are now understood to be on board to find a buyer for the entire business.
In 2007, Walsh Western merged with a US rival in a deal that took the Enrights global. Brian runs the day-to-day business and lives in the US while his father chairs the company but lives here.
Syncreon specialises in door- to-door delivery of high-end goods – something it has been doing since Walsh Western carved out a niche delivering computers and other hi-tech products to consumers more than a decade ago.
The company is headquartered in Auburn, Michigan, close to Detroit.
Its initial success was a rare example of an Irish company moving into the big time by successfully partnering with the big Irish-based multi-nationals.
Since the 1990s their company base has shifted from Limerick to Dublin and to Auburn Michigan as it grew to local, national, regional and now global prominence.
A $1bn sale wouldn't even be the first time they have sold up.
In 1998, Michael Enright had sold off the bulk of the original Walsh Western for €50m to Excel, now part of DHL. The deal looked like the end of a successful business career.
It left them with a much smaller business that Brian took over as chief executive.
Under the Excel deal he was barred from competing in the old haulage space so he redeveloped the business as a specialist logistics firm.
By 2007 what had been the rump of Walsh Western had expanded across Europe. Sales were around the €240m mark and Brian was managing 2,000 people in Ireland, UK, the Netherlands and Germany.
Walsh Western was merged with TDS to form Syncreon.
The business is now owned by the Enrights and New York-based investment house GenNx360 Capital Partners.
It operates in 25 countries and has 12,000 employees world wide. Sales were €700m in 2011 and profits were €23m.
The tight-lipped company declined to comment on the reports that it has put itself up for sale.