Top 4 forwarders that may be ripe for M&A activity in 2018

Panalpina – Basel, Switzerland

As one of the largest forwarders in the world, listed as No. 5 in Air Cargo World’s latest Power 25 rankings, the Swiss giant has still been rumored to be a takeover target, mostly because it has been one of the most vulnerable of the top 25 firms to the rise in freight rates this year, stemming from higher demand.

Earlier this year, a report from investment banking firm Jefferies International called Panalpina an “increasingly likely takeover target,” adding that “a restructuring-driven earnings recovery has so far failed to materialize, with the operating performance further deteriorating after the strategy update,” by the 3PL’s CEO, Stefan Karlen, who joined Panalpina in September 2016.

In the third quarter of this year, rising staff costs reportedly ate into Panalpina’s profits, which fell from $32.9 million to $30.1 million over the three-month period, despite a 13 percent rise in revenue, year-over-year. While performance has improved, this year, with airfreight volumes up 8 percent, y-o-y, in first nine months of 2017, it was less that half of the 19 percent gains reported by its Swiss rival, Kuehne + Nagel over the same period.

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