Canada’s largest pension fund and Onex Corp. have teamed up to bid for Element Fleet Management Corp., with KKR & Co. also making an offer for the commercial vehicle and equipment leasing company, according to people familiar with the matter.
The group comprised of Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Onex is the leading bidder at this stage of the sale process, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the details aren’t public. A deal to take Toronto-based Element private could be reached as early as this year, they said.
Element rose as much as 10 percent in trading. Shares closed up 8.7 percent to C$10.46 in Toronto, giving the company a value of almost C$4 billion ($3.1 billion).
No final decision has been made and other potential suitors may emerge, the people said.
Representatives for Element, Canada Pension and KKR declined to comment. A representative for Onex didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Element has been under pressure from activist investors Marcato Capital Management and Sachem Head Capital Management to explore a sale, people familiar with the matter said last month. ValueAct Capital Management is also a shareholder but hasn’t actively pushed for a sale.
Element’s shares had fallen about 24 percent this year before. The company said in July that it was evaluating options for some non-core assets.
Led by Chief Executive Officer Bradley Nullmeyer, Element has grown rapidly, buying peers PHH Arval in 2014 and and GE Capital’s fleet management businesses in 2015. The company offers a range of services, including fleet accident management, financing and telematics, according to its website.
CPPIB also acquired the leveraged loan business from GE Capital in 2015 for about $12 billion as part of General Electric Co.’s effort to shed about $200 billion in assets.