…claims Nol van Fenema. Nol is retired but, in his active days, he was the grand seigneur of cargo and logistics reporting, founder of Payload Asia, and long-time contributor to CargoForwarder Global. He is surprised at the dilettantism with which CMA CGM and AF-KLM-MP Cargo have communicated their intended merger, and at which questions still remain unanswered. Internal communications have not worked either, as evidenced by the leaving of two high-ranking managers CMA CGM had hired to run its new cargo airline just a couple of weeks before announcing its marriage with the Franco-Dutch cargo airline.
In an issue of CargoForwarder Global, I recently noted the write-up about the AF-KLM-MP Cargo and CMA-CGM merger and wondered how on earth they were going to integrate their two operations.
In the meantime, I have discussed the merger with some of the few friends I still have in the industry. Although the two partners are not doing themselves a favor with the current media black-out, I get the impression that they are basically forced to keep mum about the developments because, after announcing the merger with great fanfare, they have apparently run into major organizational obstacles.
Based on feedback, my guess is that the main problem both parties are currently facing, is that the merger and future relationship with existing parties was not evaluated properly prior to the announcement. As everyone well knows, these kind of partnerships and mergers require intensive scrutiny and evaluation before they are being announced publicly. To illustrate my point, I understand that on the CMA-CGM side, two senior air cargo executives, including Mark Sutch (who gave up a senior position at Cathay Pacific to join CMA-CGM as Chief Commercial Officer in the newly merged company), have left CMA-CGM because of the poor preparations by senior CMA-CGM management. The other executive who resigned was Hugues Marchessaux, Chief Operating Officer of CMA CGM Air Cargo, who joined in April 2021, a month after the cargo airline was launched [STAT Times reported, HS].
The fact that, for instance, nobody in either company specified the role of CEVA in the merged company, is also illustrative of the poor planning and preparations and it is truly amazing that two major cargo players in their own transport mode did not discuss and solve these and other issues before announcing the merger.
I am sure there are other delicate subjects that need to be solved before both parties can effectively merge, but it is clear that neither party will be able to provide any further details of the already announced merger without risking further internal frustrations and thus delays. So, they keep mum. Which is understandable. Especially since the competition is, of course, closely watching the struggles of the so far unsuccessful merger.
As to the AF-KLM-MP media relations, they are in a difficult position to liaise with the press because of the problems at the top.
Nol van Fenema
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