The 2019 Air Cargo Executive of the Year is DSV Panalpina’s Jens Bjorn Andersen

Caryn Livingston

Early in 2019, speculation ran rampant over the future of Panalpina. The Swiss forwarder had faced several difficult quarters, with declines in profit exacerbated by overall market weakness and demand declines in some of the forwarder’s higher-yield verticals. Enter DSV. Unsolicited, Panalpina’s Danish logistics rival submitted a takeover offer to Panalpina’s board, valuing Panalpina at CHF170 per share, or about US$4 billion total.

The unsolicited bid to acquire Panalpina was not an unheard of move for DSV. In October 2018, the forwarder had tried a similar bid in an effort to acquire CEVA Logistics. However, CEVA’s board rejected the bid of about $1.5 billion as inadequate, stating that the offer undervalued CEVA as a stand-alone company and its French partner, CMA CGM, which has since taken over as CEVA’s parent company.

The DSV and Panalpina story ended differently than did 2018’s takeover attempt, however. While Panalpina rejected DSV’s first overtures and entertained the idea of making its own major acquisition in Kuwaiti 3PL Agility Global Logistics, DSV continued to pursue the Swiss forwarder. Despite the date of the eventual announcement — April 1, often referred to as April Fool’s Day and infamous for pranks from corporations and individuals alike —– the news was no joke. Panalpina and DSV would join forces, with DSV purchasing the Swiss company for about $4.6 billion to create a new entity, DSV Panalpina A/S, that would become one of the largest logistics companies in the world. The acquisition was completed Aug. 19.

The man at the helm during DSV’s bids for and acquisition of what he referred to as “the highest quality” of all the companies DSV has acquired during its history was Jens Bjorn Andersen, then-CEO of DSV and current CEO of DSV Panalpina. Andersen’s leadership of DSV through its acquisition of and merger with Panalpina led the readers and editors of Air Cargo World to recognize him as the Air Cargo Executive of the Year for 2019.

To read more from Andersen about the acquisition and the future at DSV Panalpina, view the full story in the December 2019/January 2020 digital issue of Air Cargo World, here.

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