Logistics opportunities spur multinational M&A

14:00 | 01/06/2017
A growing number of foreign logistics companies are expanding operations to and inside Vietnam through merger and acquisition deals to lower operational costs and cash in on market opportunities.
Foreign investors find it hard to resist the Vietnamese logistics market, and they want local partners to assist them, Photo: Le Toan

Taekwang, a South Korean conglomerate operating in petrochemicals, textiles, and electronics, last week submitted a letter of intent to Gemadept stakeholders, expressing its interest in buying stake in Gemadept – the largest Vietnamese logistics firm.

Do Van Minh, general director of Gemadept, confirmed the information when contacted by VIR, saying that many foreign investors are interested in buying shares in the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange-listed company.

Founded in 1990, Gemadept has around 12 subsidiaries in the areas of logistics, port operations, and real estate development. It is also running logistics and plant facilities in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.

If the merger and acquisition (M&A) deal goes as expected, Taekwang, which entered the Vietnamese market in 1994, will be able to combine its existing manufacturing operations in Vietnam with Gemadept’s logistics business, thus enabling it to establish a secure logistics base in Southeast Asia.

Taekwang is the latest example of a significant trend towards M&A between local and foreign firms in the logistics sector.

Earlier this year, Goyo Kound, a leading Japanese logistics service provider, expanded its business in Vietnam by acquiring a 70 per cent stake in a new joint venture with the local forwarder Minh Nhat Co., Ltd. after watching it grow over the past three years.

In 2016, Nippon Express Co., Japan’s largest international freight forwarder, began following through with its plans to take over Nippon Express Co. Vietnam – which was established as a joint venture in Vietnam six years ago with the local firm Transimex – to make it a wholly Japanese invested firm. This strategy is scheduled for completion in 2018.

“The wave of foreign logistics firms shifting their investment from China has also prompted them to expand operations in Vietnam. M&A has now become a popular trend. Domestic logistics firms want to co-operate with foreign partners to enlarge operations, while foreign partners aim for co-operation to cut costs,” Nguyen Tuong, deputy general secretary of the Vietnam Logistics Business Association (VLBA), told VIR.

“I have seen four to five M&A deals in recent months. Logistics firms from Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Singapore are most interested in such deals,” he said.

Foreign firms choose M&A because local partners have already developed extensive business networks and have experience in the market. M&A deals also give foreign investors an opportunity to own 100 per cent of the venture at a future date, Tuong notes.

In addition, the rapid growth of Vietnam’s export-oriented manufacturing sector has boosted demand for logistics services, making Vietnam even more appealing to investors.

According to the latest statistics from the General Department of Vietnam Customs, Vietnam’s export turnover increased 20.3 per cent on-year to $126.09 billion in the first four months of 2017, while its import value reached $63.99 billion.

The strong developments in retail, services, and e-commerce have also contributed to the trend in logistics M&A. Vietnam has risen from 28th to 11th place on the A.T. Kearny 2016 Global Retail Development Index (GRDI). The e-commerce market is expected to experience a 22 per cent growth rate in 2017 and a 13.2 percent average annual growth rate by 2020, according to eMarketer.

Tuong said that with the huge potential on the back of the country’s latest strategy to develop the logistics sector by 2025, Vietnam will witness more logistics M&A deals in the coming months.

Vietnam is home to over 1,300 logistics service providers, with global logistics firms including Denmark’s Maersk Line, Singapore’s APL Logistics, Germany’s Hapag-Lloyd, and Japan’s NYK Line.

By By Bich Thuy

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