Wincanton directors recommend $700m takeover bid from major international freight group

January 19, 2024

Logistics firm Wincanton is set to be acquired by a global freight group following a surprise $700m (£567m) deal announced today.

The bid, from French-owned shipping giant CMA CGM, was backed by Chippenham-headquartered Wincanton’s board, which said it intends to unanimously recommend it to shareholders.

Earlier this week Wincanton, which has 20,300 employees and 8,500 vehicles in more than 170 sites across the country, announced it grew revenues by 1.3% year-on-year in the third quarter despite what it described as a “challenging trading environment”.

CMA has made the all-cash offer, which offers a premium of 52% on the 297p closing price of Wincanton shares yesterday, through a newly formed entity called CEVA Logistics UK Rose.

Wincanton’s shares soared by more than 47% this morning following confirmation of CMA’s approach on the London Stock Exchange, reaching 437p, their highest for two-and-a-half years. 

CMA already operates in the UK under the CEVA brand, including in Filton, Bristol, where it has a major warehouse.

Cash-rich CMA, which is privately controlled by the Franco-Lebanese billionaire Saade family, has been on an acquisition spree in recent years, including snapping CEVA in 2019 and freight forwarder Gefco, which also has a base in Bristol, in 2022.

It said buying Wincanton, which has a diverse portfolio of clients ranging from retailers New Look, IKEA and Sainsbury, to defence and industrial customers such as EDF and BAE System, represented an attractive growth opportunity in line with CEVA's expansion strategy. 

“It is a unique opportunity to expand CEVA's offering in the UK, and to acquire complementary grocery and consumer expertise,” it added.

It also said it “strongly believed” that a combination between Wincanton and CEVA would further develop CEVA's offering in contract logistics in the UK and Ireland, with Wincanton acting as its key development and growth platform in these countries.

In addition, it would build on Wincanton's “proven expertise in partnering with prominent grocers and retailers in the UK”, it said, to diversify CEVA's customer base, while delivering cost synergies, sharing best practices and making use of key talents from both sides.

CMA’s offer document said while Wincanton’s directors continued to believe there were strong structural drivers underpinning future growth across its business, including trends towards outsourcing and eCommerce penetration, they had to consider the attraction to shareholders of the cash consideration “against the backdrop of near-term macroeconomic uncertainty”.


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