M&A in transport and logistics decline sharply

M&A deals, joint ventures and strategic alliances in the transport and logistics industry

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Ingo Bauer

Ingo Bauer
Head of Transport, Logistics and Tourism at PwC Germany

Keeping you up to date with the latest industry developments

On this site you will find the semi-annual analyses from PwC and Strategy&, PwC’s global strategy consulting business, on mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures and strategic alliances in the transport and logistics industry. “Transport & Logistics Barometer” is an elevated version of the former M&A Reports (until 2019). All issues are available for download here.

Digital transformation, new players, changing business models: transport and logistics are in a state of flux. What impact do deals have on the industry? How is digitalisation changing the face of an entire industry? With our Transport & Logistics Barometer, we provide answers – and not just to these questions. The Barometer provides a 360-degree view of the entire industry and analyzes what impact social change and global megatrends are having on the industry.

“High-level interest rates last year made it difficult to realise larger takeovers. However, the bottom of this trough should have been reached, meaning that we expect slight growth in mergers & acquisitions in 2024. Maritime infrastructure represents a particular focus area here.”

Ingo Bauer,Head of Transport, Logistics and Tourism at PwC Germany

Issue – Full year 2023

Global competition for ports and terminals puts Europe to the test

In 2023, just 185 mergers and acquisitions (M&A) worth at least USD 50 million were announced in the global transport and logistics (T&L) industry – a drop of 29 per cent when compared to the previous year, and by far the weakest figure registered in the ten years previous. The total volume of deals also slumped to USD 74.6 billion (2022: USD 181.3 billion). 

Comprising 25 per cent of transaction volume, shipping – including port infrastructure deals – was the second strongest sub-sector. Deals in this area have been on the upswing since 2015; since then, the deal volume has totalled around USD 100 billion. Even though the value of announced M&A fell significantly to USD 4.2 billion in 2023, this area remained comparatively active with 16 deals.

Ports and terminals have moved into the strategic focus worldwide despite the prevailing sense of uncertainty. Over the long term, control over harbours and sea routes also means influence over the bottlenecks in the global movement of goods. This spirit of competition poses a challenge to the EU: harmony in the global maritime system can no longer be taken for granted, as some of the key players are pursuing very different interests. 

A shift in the target regions has been observed: two-thirds of the 184 deals announced in the port infrastructure sector between 2015 and 2023 were aimed at ports in Asia and Oceania. In addition, investments by foreign investors in harbours and terminals in Africa are becoming increasingly important. China, in particular, is seen as a competitor to European countries, which are investing in African infrastructure with their Global Gateway Programme, in order to remain competitive.

Industry driving de-carbonisation through collaboration 

While mergers & acquisitions in the transport and logistics sector declined globally in 2023, cooperation agreements – including joint ventures and codeshare agreements – remained at the same level as seen in 2022. An increasing number of joint ventures and cooperation agreements are declaring progress towards achieving de-carbonisation as a goal. The switch from fossil fuels to carbon-free alternatives and renewable energy sources is an important factor in the transformation of the logistics industry.

Outlook: signs of slight M&A growth in 2024

Despite economic uncertainty and the presence of geopolitical risks, companies in the transport and logistics sector are required to continue to pursue their transformation projects with determination. Digitalisation, sustainability and a future-proof positioning in growth markets stand at the heart of this. The upcoming turnaround in interest rates is likely to have a revitalising effect.

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Ingo Bauer

Ingo Bauer

Transport, Logistics and Tourism Industry Leader, PwC Germany

Dr. André Wortmann

Dr. André Wortmann

Partner, Leiter Maritimes Kompetenzzentrum, PwC Germany

Tel: +49 40 6378-1414

Dr. Peter Kauschke

Dr. Peter Kauschke

Director Transport and Logistics, Mobility, PwC Germany