Panalpina persists in perishables with purchase of CargoMaster, Laseair

Swiss forwarding giant Panalpina is seeking to increase its already large market share of the South American perishables logistics market by purchasing CargoMaster S.A. in Colombia, and its Ecuadorian subsidiary, Laseair S.A. The companies reached an agreement on Tuesday of this week, but chose not to disclose the financial details of the acquisition.

CargoMaster, with its subsidiary Laseair, are two of the largest companies in Latin America specializing in the airfreight export of perishables, consisting mostly of cut flowers for the United States, but also for markets in Europe and Asia.

Panalpina CEO Stefan Karlen said the acquisition will make the Basel-based forwarder “the undisputed perishables market leader” in Colombia and Latin America, and strengthen its position in Ecuador. “We are adding significant volumes and know-how to our already impressive perishables footprint in Latin America,” he added.

With the addition of CargoMaster, which was founded in 1987, Karlen said he envisions “great development opportunities for our Charter Network,” which has its gateway in Huntsville, Alabama.

Panalpina has made growth of its perishables business a top priority in recent years, including the earning of certification for handling organic product from Certisys last summer in the Benelux countries and the U.K. in Europe, as well as the June 2018 purchase of Argentine perishables company Newport Cargo. In 2017, Panalpina also purchased Kenya-based flower and vegetable forwarder Air Connection, along with Netherlands-based Interfresh Airfreight Handling and  Belgian firms Adelantex and AD Handling.

It remains to be seen how this growing perishables network will fit in with the plans of Panalpina’s new owner, DSV of Denmark, following its blockbuster purchase of the Swiss forwarder for US$4.6 billion, announced on April 1, but it seems likely that perishables will remain a major part of the export business of the new combined entity.

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