In a securities filing submitted Friday, Amazon.com disclosed warrants for nearly a tenth of Air Transport Services Group, the company that handles its emerging air-freight operation out of Ohio.
Amazon.com has warrants to soon buy 9.99 percent of Air Transport Services Group (ATSG), which could enable the Seattle tech giant to look over the shoulder of its air-cargo partner from the get-go as they jointly work out new ways to haul Amazon merchandise across the U.S.
Two weeks ago, ATSG agreed to run an ambitious airfreight service operation for Amazon out of ATSG’s Wilmington, Ohio, hub.
The agreement, which followed months of secret testing with a few planes, includes the leasing of 20 Boeing 767 freighter jets by ATSG to Amazon.
The big fleet will connect Amazon’s far-flung fulfillment centers at a time the company seeks to speed up delivery of items while keeping its transportation costs under control.
As part of the deal, ATSG gave Amazon the right to acquire up to 19.99 percent of its outstanding common shares over the next five years.
A filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission recorded Friday indicated the issuance of warrants for 7.1 million shares to Amazon, according to ATSG. That means the stock hasn’t changed hands yet: per the rules of the contract between the companies, Amazon can acquire those shares at the earliest of either July 8, or ATSG’s next stockholder meeting. (A proxy announcing the next stockholder meeting for the company hasn’t been filed, but last year it took place in May.)
To be sure, acquisition is not automatic, ATSG says. But ATSG executives said in a March 9 earnings call that Amazon insisted on the option of partial ownership as part of the deal.
The rules of the agreement give Amazon one seat on ATSG’s board once the company obtains at least 10 percent of the shares.
Amazon will be able to buy 5.12 million more shares upon ATSG’s reaching certain milestones, and additional vestments are scheduled over time. At the agreed-upon price of $9.73 per share, a 9.99 percent stake represents a $69 million investment — that was worth $103 million at Friday market prices.
Amazon’s ownership of a significant chunk of ATSG stock would give the air-cargo company a cash infusion and Amazon a valuable perch from where to learn the airfreight business.
Amazon is building a transportation network to complement the logistics service it gets from FedEx, UPS and other providers, and that Amazon says is not enough to meet its fast-growing demands.
Information in this article, originally published Sunday, March 20, 2016,, was corrected on Monday, March 21, 2016. A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Amazon had acquired 9.99 percent of air-cargo partner Air Transport Services Group. In fact, Amazon has warrants to acquire 9.99 percent of the company, which it won’t be able to exercise until an upcoming ATSG stockholder meeting or July 8, whichever comes earlier.