UK Logistics Company Goes with Americans Over Bid from CMA CGM’s CEVA

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The board of directors of UK-based Wincanton withdrew its support for a takeover offer from CMA CGM’s CEVA Logistics switching to a competing offer from US-based GXO Logistics. The competition emerged at the beginning of the week, and yesterday GXO topped CEVA’s bid by 26 percent, which represents more than double the value of Wincanton before the bidding began.

“The Wincanton directors intend to recommend unanimously the GXO offer and, accordingly, have withdrawn their recommendation of the increased and final cash offer by CEVA Logistics,” the company wrote in a Lond Stock Exchange announcement filed today, March 1. 

Commenting on the GXO Offer, Martin Read, Chairman of Wincanton, said, “We have long been clear that Wincanton is a great business with a compelling strategy, strong customer relationships, and excellent people. Under the current management team, we have made positive progress and ensured that Wincanton is at the forefront of logistics innovation.”

Operating in the UK and Ireland, Wincanton is nearly 100 years old with more than 170 sites across the two countries. It has shown strong growth recently, last year reporting revenues of more than $1.8 billion and EBITDA of nearly $154 million. 

CEVA cited the company as “an attractive growth opportunity” that would more than double the size of its UK operations. The acquisition was part of the larger strategy by CMA CGM which has been expanding its logistics business in the past few years to become a second major focus of the French group. Two years ago, CMA CGM purchased portions of the business from Ingram Micro as well as buying GEFCO, which is in vehicles and automotive logistics, and recently launched vehicle transport operations with a charter for four PCTCs. Yesterday, CMA CGM completed the $5.24 billion acquisition of Bolloré Logistics, making the combined group the fifth-largest logistics company.

Under UK securities law, CEVA has a maximum of four business days from February 29, 2024, to set aside its statement that it would not be increasing its offer for Wincanton.

GXO highlights that it is the largest pure-play contract logistics provider. It said that the combination with Wincanton would materially enhance service offerings for UK and Irish customers. The acquisition it said would provide strategic growth verticals in the UK and a basis for expansion to offer industrial and aerospace services across Europe.

The move comes as interest in growing in the logistics sector. Maersk made major acquisitions to expand its presence in logistics, and yesterday Japan’s NYK reported it had acquired Noel Topco, a U.K.-based holding company of 10 companies, including Global Freight Solutions Limited. NYK said the acquisition is part of its logistics business growth strategy outlined in March 2023.

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