The Vienna-based logistics company is facing a change of ownership. This was confirmed to CargoForwarder Global by spokesperson, Karin Schwarz. The sole owner of the Austrian logistics company, Stefan Krauter, wants to withdraw from his leading position.
Family comes first
The Austrian logistics agent, cargo-partner was founded 40 years ago. Ever since then, its sole proprietor, Stefan Krauter, has stood on the navigation bridge of the company and determined its fate and development. A job that he has done extremely successfully, as evidenced by the annual balance sheets and the company's network of stations spanning large parts of the globe. Now it is time to cut back and devote more time to family and private matters, he has told staff, Ms. Schwarz confirmed. This will not happen immediately, but at the earliest in the second half of the year. To this end, cargo partner has engaged consultants to develop solutions. “The logistics industry is undergoing a dynamic process of digitization and consolidation. This also affects cargo-partner insofar as we are exploring strategic options for the next decade. Succession planning for our company by our founder has been underway for some time. He is now taking the appropriate steps. cargo-partner will have to grow or integrate into the growth process of others,” the company stated. “We do not comment on anything beyond that, because that could narrow our scope for decision-making,” Ms. Schwarz added.
Which investor fits best?
Agency Bloomberg estimates that investors would have to pay a price tag of between USD 1.5 to 2 billion for the company. Perhaps, however, there will not be a classic sale but a management buyout. It would prevent the name cargo-partner disappearing from the market as happened to Panalpina after Danish DSV had bought the Swiss company in mid-2019 for €4.1 billion - nineteen times Panalpina's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (Ebitda).
There are certainly enough potentially interested parties out there with sufficient money in their pockets, eager to add a well-organized global actor to their own service portfolio. After all, the past 2 or 3 years have been the most profitable in recent history for many logistics companies, particularly the large ones. This is shown by the outstanding balance sheets presented the past months by Kuehne+Nagel, DB Schenker, DSV, and most of their peers.
The same applies to shipping companies such as MSC, CMA CGM, Moeller Maersk, or Hapag-Lloyd, which in the case of Moeller Maersk, MSC and CMA CGM have recently added logistics companies to their portfolio. This enables them to offer customers integrated transport solutions, reaching from sea and air freight to road and rail transport, and includes customs brokerage and warehousing solutions. Such as Copenhagen-based Maersk did, for instance, acquiring agent Senator International in NOV21, for an estimated 556 million euros, followed by Geneva-headquartered MSC on 01APR22, which purchased Bolloré Africa Logistics for 5.7 billion euros. Box liners have hugely profited from supply chain disruptions and capacity shortages, filling their coffers to the top, and are now seeking opportunities to reinvest their profits.
An internal solution is not ruled out
Although Ms. Schwarz dismissed speculation about future investors, she did not rule out the possibility of a management buyout. “We have a very efficient management team that functions extremely well. This is demonstrated by our steadily growing global network and not least by fiscal 2021, which was the most successful year in the company's history spanning over four decades,” she stated. It would be a solution comparable to that of EMO-Trans, where a management buyout initiated by a group of managers including Randolph Reichel, Thomas Klinkhammer, Stefan Ritter, or Jo Frigger in the USA, bought the logistics company from founder, Eckhard Moltmann, at the turn of the century, and developed it further to offer the market customized logistics solutions on a global scale.
Is EMO-Trans perhaps a role model for cargo partner? “Mr. Krauter is passionate about the further development of the company. His goal in the consultations now underway on the company's future, is the best possible option for customers, employees, and the company's business perspective,” Karin Schwarz told CargoForwarder Global.
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