One of the state’s biggest energy-transition companies – Merchant Fleet of Hooksett, a giant truck-leasing firm that made one of the earliest plunges into electric vehicles (will buy 12,500 EV vans from GE’s Brightdrop division), has been sucked into all-consuming maw of private equity/venture capital.

Merchants Fleet, the nation’s fastest growing fleet management company,today announced that Bain Capital and a wholly owned subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) have signed a definitive agreement to acquire Merchants Automotive Group, DBA Merchants Fleet and Merchants Auto (collectively “Merchants”). The members of the Merchants leadership team will remain in their current roles and will be co-investors in the business. Chief Executive Officer Brendan P. Keegan will also assume roles of president & chairperson. Terms of the private transaction were not disclosed. 

Like many people I am leery of private equity firms, which are companies knowledgeable about how to manipulate tax laws and financial regulations who combine other people’s money into large pools that they use to buy up companies and change things, selling them later for theoretical profit. Too often, their route to cashing out involves short-term cuts that destroy the purchased company in the process, with Toys ‘R Us being the canonical example.

But private equity is a great way to get lots of funding very quickly, and Merchants Fleet needs it to expand fast because competition is growing. A lot of companies have realized that fleets of vans and trucks making deliveries are the perfect use case for electric vehicles and are piling into the industry. So maybe this is a good thing.

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