Arkansas Best Corp. will acquire Panther Expedited Services Inc. from Fenway Partners LLC for approximately $180 million, with all of Panther's outstanding debt being repaid as part of the transaction.

Panther will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Arkansas Best, Fort Smith, Ark., and a sister company to ABF Freight System, one of the largest less-than-truckload carriers in the country.

Andrew Clarke will remain with Panther as president and CEO, reporting directly to ABF President and CEO Judy R. McReynolds. All other members of the Panther executive team are expected to remain in their current roles.

Seville, Ohio-based Panther will help Arkansas Best diversify and give it more of a one-stop-shop to appeal to customers. As the company says in its announcement, "Panther's specialized equipment, technology and expertise in expedited transportation, premium logistics and global forwarding will enhance Arkansas Best's end-to-end solutions offering."

Panther posted $215 million in total revenue in 2011 and $24 million of adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA). Panther's EBITDA has averaged more than $20 million since 2006 "despite the recent economic downturn," noted the Arkansas Best press release.

Andrew Clarke, president and CEO of Panther, and the rest of the Panther management team will remain in their roles.

"Both our companies have expedited transportation solutions, but with different, complementary operating models and minimal customer overlap," Clarke noted in a statement. "Upon the close of this transaction, Panther employees will have access to a much broader sales organization nationwide and a parent company with significant resources."

The acquisition is scheduled to close on or about June 15.