A private equity firm has invested $30 million in the ocean freight e-commerce platform Inttra, and in so doing wrested control of the company from its original steamship owners.
The investment by Baltimore-based ABS Capital Partners puts 51 percent of Inttra's ownership in the hands of the private equity firm, which specializes in investing in relatively young companies with proven track records. Inttra was founded in 2001 as an open e-commerce pOréal to support electronic ocean freight transactions. Until now, the Parsippany, N.J.-based company was controlled by seven steamship lines and freight forwarder Kuehne + Nagel.
Inttra said in a Jan. 29 press release that the funding from ABS will allow it to develop a "new commercial strategy" that includes creating a dedicated sales staff for carrier and high-volume shipper accounts, as well as a "professional services program" to facilitate e-commerce transactions in the ocean freight segment.
Don Hebb, ABS's chairman, and Bobby Goswami, the firm's general partner, will join Inttra's board. Long-time CEO Ken Bloom will remain in his current post. Hebb will become chairman of Inttra.
It is expected that none of the now-minority members will cash out their investment and leave the partnership.
Inttra had a banner year in 2009 as the severe global economic contraction failed to dull a growing appetite for e-commerce transactions in the ocean freight business. Last year, Inttra set a record in the number of container transactions handled and reported a 34-percent increase in what it termed "network connections."