Raleigh, n.c.-based Waste Industries USA has finalized a $544 million deal to take the company private. The deal involves entering into a merger agreement with an investment group led by Lonnie Poole Jr., the company's founder and chairman; Jim Perry, the company's president and CEO; and financial partners Macquarie Infrastructure Partners and Goldman Sachs.

Shareholders will sell their shares at $38 per share, which includes a 33 percent premium from the closing price on Oct. 22, when the offer was first announced. The deal is expected to close during the first half 2008.

According to a press release, Poole said he expects very little to change for employees and customers due to the deal and that they should expect business as usual. “We firmly believe that going private is the most attractive path available for the company, our shareholders, employees, customers, vendors and the communities which we serve,” he said. “Transitioning to a private company will provide the company with the level of investment necessary to further develop its business while at the same time delivering what we believe is an attractive premium to shareholders.”

Waste Industries went public in 1997 during a period of aggressive acquisitions. “We had already made several acquisitions and wanted to be able to finance more,” says Carol Dalton, investor relations and Securities and Exchange Commission reporting analyst for Waste Industries. More recently, the group pointed to an intense focus by investment analysts and public shareholders on short-term quarterly earnings as one of the main reasons for transitioning back to a private company.