CEG Exclusive: Ritchie's IronPlanet Acquisition Enters Home Stretch

Fri May 26, 2017 - National Edition
Craig Mongeau

Jim Barr, group president, emerging businesses, brand innovation and technology, Ritchie Bros.
Jim Barr, group president, emerging businesses, brand innovation and technology, Ritchie Bros.

When Ritchie Bros. recently received unconditional antitrust clearance from the U.S. Department of Justice for its IronPlanet acquisition, an exclamation mark was symbolically placed on the end of a process to acquire the leading online auctioneer that started in late summer 2016.

The process was smooth and securing U.S. government approval went as expected.

“Our business is unique, so we expected that the acquisition could take until the end of the second quarter in 2017 [end of June] to receive approval from the Department of Justice,” Jim Barr, group president, emerging businesses, brand innovation and technology, Ritchie Bros., told Construction Equipment Guide (CEG). “We received unconditional approval in mid-May, so it fit our initial expectations.”

This acquisition, according to Barr, is all about the customer, providing them unprecedented choice in different ways to buy and sell equipment, trucks and other assets.

“As expected, the DOJ took the time to understand our business and the benefits our combined company can provide customers and then provided unconditional approval of the acquisition,” he said.

The acquisition will officially close in the next few weeks.

“It's exciting, we can't wait to get to work,” Barr said. “We believe by working together with IronPlanet the possibilities are endless.”

The IronPlanet acquisition was a logical step for the venerable auctioneer, Ritchie Bros. The company was a pioneer by stepping into the world of online auctions back in 2002. Now online business makes up close to half of its sales. In 2016, Ritchie Bros. sold $2.1 billion of assets to online buyers.

“Our strategy over the last few years has been to move from an auctions-only company to a leader in multichannel asset disposition,” said Barr. “Our customers buy and sell equipment through a variety of channels based on their needs and we want to help them do this in as many ways as possible. Our multichannel strategy has accelerated with some key acquisitions and launches, including a relaunch of EquipmentOne, an online-only marketplace that does not require a seller to move the equipment and provides them with more control over the selling price, and Mascus, an equipment listing service.”

According to Barr, Ritchie Bros.' acquisition of IronPlanet is the next step in its multi-channel diversification strategy, providing customers with an “unprecedented suite of solutions” from the company that includes:

• Live auctions with online bidding (under the Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers brand);

• Weekly online-only auctions (under the IronPlanet brand);

• Online marketplaces with additional seller control over price and process (under both the EquipmentOne and IronPlanet brands);

• Online listing service (under the Mascus brand); and more.

“Initially, when the acquisition closes, our focus will be on getting one sales team on the road selling solutions from both companies as soon as possible,” said Barr. “Each company has a great set of solutions. We won't be getting rid of any of them. We want our customers to choose whatever solution best suits their needs.”

The Caterpillar alliance is expected to deliver significant benefits to Caterpillar, its independent dealers and their respective customers, Barr added.

“Through the Cat Auction Services brand, we will provide Caterpillar and its dealers with access to our auction platforms, software and other value-added services, to enhance the exchange of information and services between customers, dealers and suppliers,” he said.

Going forward, Ritchie Bros. believes the possibilities are endless when customers experience the company's passion for customers, its brand strength with more even more technology.

“We are inspired by the vision of leading a digital transformation in the industry,” Barr said.—CEG