(Dec. 5) FRESNO, Calif. — Hays Container Services has a new owner.

Hays PLC, the firm’s London-based parent company, has sold its logistics division, which includes Hays Container, to Platinum Equity LLC, a Los Angeles-based acquisition firm.

Jim Vangelos, president and chief executive officer of Hays Container, said the acquisition will mean bigger and better things for the company down the road.

“We will be part of a free-standing logistics company with plenty of resources to expand,” he said.

Vangelos said there are no immediate plans for expansion but that the added resources of Platinum Equity will provide Hays with that option down the road. In addition, Hays will soon begin operating under a new name. While that name has not been determined, Vangelos said it is expected by the end of January. He said there will be no changes in management or personnel.

The agreement values the logistics unit at $173.9 million and frees up Hays PLC to move forward with its plan to focus on its recruitment and human resources businesses.

The agreement was effective Oct. 31 but was not publicly announced until late November.

Hays is not the first logistics company Platinum has invested in. In 2002, it merged two of its companies to create Data2Logistics, a freight payment processing and auditing company in Fort Myers, Fla.

Tom Gores, chairman and chief executive officer of Platinum Equity, said in a news release that the acquisition is part of Platinum’s effort to extend its global reach. Hays Logistics does a substantial amount of business in Europe.

“This acquisition underscores a concerted effort by Platinum to expand our global reach, particularly in Europe,” he said. “Hays Logistics will be a cornerstone company as we grow in the supply chain and logistics market space.”

Hays Logistics has operations in 11 European countries, as well as the U.S.

Vangelos said that, with the acquisition, Hays Container will become a fully U.S.-based company, which could also work to its advantage.

“There are a lot of businesses that would prefer to deal with American companies,” he said.

Though the deal is still subject to approval from Hays shareholders, it is expected to close in early 2004.