Frias to sell assets of 5 Southern Nevada cab companies

Updated February 28, 2019 - 11:22 am

Frias Transportation is set to sell its assets ahead of ending business operations next month.

It will seek approval to sell assets of its five taxi companies — Ace Cab, Vegas Western Cab, Union Cab, ANLV Cab and Virgin Valley Cab — through two transactions featuring multiple buyers — during Thursday’s state Taxicab Authority meeting. The meeting begins at 9 a.m. at the Nevada State Business Center, 3300 W. Sahara Ave.

Frias announced in January it would shut down March 13 after a half-century of operation in Southern Nevada.

YCS Acquisition, LLC, Cab Transport, LLC, Taxi Transport, LLC, and Twenty First Century Taxi, LLC — a consortium made up of taxicab veterans of the Las Vegas market that also own Yellow Checker Star Transportation — are purchasing the 928 vehicles, medallions (small license plates affixed to cabs authorizing them to operate within a jurisdiction), and certificates of public convenience and necessity related to the Frias-owned Ace Cab, Vegas Western Cab, Union Cab and ANLV Cab companies, according to Johnathan Schwartz, director of Yellow Checker Star.

Blue Desert, a partnership between Whittlesea-Bell Transportation and Desert Cab, is set to acquire Virgin Valley Cab and its 132 vehicles from Frias, said John Mowbray, a trustee for the Frias Family Trust.

“Bottom line is we’ve got two buyers,” Mowbray said. “One buyer for Virgin Valley, which is the smallest of the five. Then the buyer for the four, the largest portion of the company, and they’ve all been vetted previously by the Taxicab Authority.”

The buildings and land Frias Transportation operates from are not included in the proposed deals. That property will be sold at a different date, Mowbray said.

Plenty of interest

Almost immediately after officials announced Frias’ operations would be shutting down, interested parties from California to New York reached out, expressing interest in purchasing the cab group.

“We had some opportunities to take a look at some out-of-state folks that really wanted to come into the market,” he said.

Calling it a “once-in-a-decade opportunity,” Mowbray said the trust saw an “eBay bidding war going on,” for the five taxi companies.

But after considering how long it would take to bring in an out-of-state buyer, the company decided to go with parties already established in the area, Mowbray said.

Several hundred of Frias’ 1,100 employees have found new employment through the deals, according to Mowbray, and many of them will stay on with the company until the March 13 shutdown.

“We’ve been fortunate enough that most of them (Frias drivers) found new employment,” Mowbray said. “A significant number have already given them a handshake that they’ll be brought on board. Both parties have been working hard to ensure this is as seamless as possible to make sure these drivers are on the road March 14.”

Whittlesea-Bell Transportation CEO Brent Bell said that with the proposed acquisition, the company won’t stop looking at growth opportunities.

“We continue to seek out and evaluate opportunities for strategic mergers and acquisitions, like the pending application we have in front of the Taxicab Authority, which will help strengthen our position in the Las Vegas market,” Bell said in an email.

Rachel Jones, accounts payable clerk for Whittlesea-Bell, confirmed the company offered the opportunity for Frias drivers to be brought on board.

“Any of the employees from there (Frias) were welcome to come over here and apply,” Jones said.

The two transactions will require the approval of the board, which could happen as early as Thursday’s meeting.

Lasting legacy

The terms of the two deals were not disclosed, but Mowbray said the proceeds will ensure the Frias family has an effect on the city long after the company is sold.

“This will enhance their legacy in two aspects,” he said. “No. 1, the Frias Transportation family, the drivers, will have a chance to continue their good service to the citizens and tourists of Southern Nevada. No. 2, the proceeds from this will eventually be distributed to children, education and the less fortunate members of Southern Nevada.”

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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