Global transport and logistics mergers up 57%: PwC

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NEW YORK, N.Y.–A study by PwC US found that global transportation and logistics mergers and acquisitions rose by 57 percent in the fourth quarter, while the value of those deals increased by 100 percent.

The firm, which publishes a quarterly analysis of mergers, said there were 66 transportation and logistics transactions deals worth $50 million or more in the fourth quarter, which totaled $23.2 billion. Third-quarter deals in 2013 were worth $10.7 billion.

Jonathan Kletzel, US transportation and logistics leader for PwC, noted that deals might continue to increase, “supported by a continued global economic expansion and global industrial production.

“Acquirers should remain cautious and continue their focus on small, local deals with more easily-achievable synergies. In addition, valuations seem likely to remain high due to competition for favored assets, including the potential supply of infrastructure deals to the market,” he said.

Local deals, PwC found, represented 71 percent of all activity in the fourth quarter, a trend that echoed throughout the year. In fact, the volume of local-market deals hit a 10-year record in 2013, the firm said. Keeping this local focus, Asia and Oceania were the most active during the quarter, and the study also concluded that activity in the U.S. and Europe remained below the levels seen before the financial collapse.

“Local-market synergies can be easier to attain given the tendency for overlap in transportation networks and existing operations. The geographic focus on deal activity has generally moved more toward emerging markets such as China, where there were numerous port and logistics transactions in 2013,” Kletzel said, adding that Brazil could become an emerging player for mergers and acquisitions.

For the full year, PwC US reported 185 deals that totaled $65.2 billion.

PwC U said the majority of mega deals, both in the fourth quarter and the full year 2013, involved infrastructure. Kletzel anticipated that the majority of deals moving forward could appear in the trucking and logistics sectors or among ocean carriers seeking vessel-sharing agreements and other alliances. The airline consolidation boom has ended, he said.

“With U.S. airline consolidation mostly complete,” he said, “further activity among airlines will likely focus more on cross-border minority stakes and antitrust immunity agreements.”

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