Author: Carl-Alexander Van Tornout
The Transport and Logistics (“T&L”) industry has seen an increased consolidation trend which has driven M&A activity and deal volume up from 2021 to H1 2022. Large logistics players have been looking for strategic growth opportunities to provide a more holistic service to clients, widening their distribution network and providing a larger share of service to the entire supply value chain.
Midmarket T&L players, who lack the investment capabilities to transition into a size benefiting larger network effects, chose to be either acquired or merged with a similar-sized player.
The consolidation is also due to new players entering the market including digital logistics players and private equity investors, who are looking to re-shape various areas of the supply chain. Private Equity investors, backed by cheap financing, have employed buy-and-build strategies to create large global players that are capable of expanding along the value chain and extracting higher margins in the process, with the support of digitalization infrastructure.
The COVID pandemic has accelerated the M&A activities in the T&L industry in 2020 and 2021. Many logistics players have achieved historically high revenues and margins from strong end-consumer demands amid supply chain disruptions. In turn, strategic buyers, supported by strong financials and growth prospects, accelerated their M&A activities to gain market share, enter new geographies and expand services for clients.
In 2022, there was a decline in deal activity in the T&L industry. A total of 387 deals were announced during 2022, representing a 16% decrease from 461 deals in 2021. In 2021, the average disclosed deal size was c. USD 711 million, while the average disclosed deal value in 2022 amounted to be c. USD 320 million, which translates to a 55% drop in average deal size.
Since the beginning of 2022, the economic slowdown has led to a sharp decline in volumes, revenues, and margins. Logistics players are looking for alternative sources of growth via acquisitions with high levels of cash from the market boom-cycle, turning the market into a buyer’s market.
It is clearly demonstrated by the recent offer made by CMA-CGM for Bollore Logistics for EUR 5Bn (2.5x EV/EBITDA), as multiples for notable transactions have significantly decreased from the highs seen in 2021.
In addition, the pandemic has led logistics users to re-assess supply chain and its logistics partners. Having a resilient service provider, diversified supply chain, and digital operational platform became a strategic focus point for clients in the logistics industry.
Looking ahead, sellers, having benefited from the market boom cycle during the past few years, are looking to clearly demonstrate their client quality, client stickiness and potential future growth once the downcycle is over, despite shrinking revenue and volumes from the peaks of 2021. Buyers are keenly focusing on the same topics of future growth and retaining clients, but from the perspective of negotiating a better deal and mitigating risks should the current market environment continue for longer.
In view of the current economic downturn and lowered valuation expectations, Buyers and Sellers are getting prepared in different ways.
Buyers can take advantage of the current environment through:
In all of the above instances, having conversations with an M&A advisor, such as CIGP, on these strategic topics makes sense. CIGP helps Buyers screen targets in the T&L industry, initiate conversations with potential Sellers and execute the transaction and negotiate transaction terms.
Sellers, on the other hand, are getting ready for a potential transaction in the buyer’s market as follows:
Leveraging an M&A advisor to prepare the business for a sale, including development of business plan, projection of financial forecasts, ensures that potential Sellers can focus on running the business successfully and the business is examined through the lens of an external investor before an M&A process starts.
The latter half of 2023 is shaping up to be an interesting period for logistics M&A activity, and CIGP is ready to be a part of the journey on either side of the table.
Reach out to us to explore further at: Advisory@cigp.com.
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Sources: Capstone Partners, CF Law, PwC, FactSet, CIGP Analysis