Kuehne + Nagel to Buy US Multimodal 3PL ReTrans

The purchase of ReTrans, an intermodal and truck freight brokerage with more than $500 million in annual revenue, extends the reach of Kuehne + Nagel, the second-largest global 3PL, far beyond U.S. ports and into the nation's industrial heartland.


Kuehne + Nagel International AG’s acquisition of a U.S. transportation brokerage is a fresh sign that a spree of tie-ups between third-party logistics providers is not slowing down.

The Swiss logistics company said Thursday it has agreed to buy ReTrans Inc., a Memphis, Tenn. company specializing in arranging for goods to be shipped via rail, ships and trucks, known as intermodal transportation. The acquisition will help Kuehne + Nagel, one of the world’s largest logistics companies, to broaden its U.S. business beyond warehousing, where the company is already strong, and into land transportation.

“By acquiring ReTrans we obtain expertise in intermodal transportation with direct access to the most important North American railroad companies, an innovative [less-than-truckload] brokerage business and a platform to provide managed transportation services,” Stefan Paul, the company’s executive vice president for overland, said in a statement.

The deal is the latest in a series in the 3PL business, which remains split among many small, specialized companies. Earlier this month, XPO Logistics Inc. bought a majority stake in Norbert Dentressangle SA, a European transportation and logistics company, for $3.53 billion. Mr. Ross estimated that Kuehne + Nagel paid between $180 million to $200 million for ReTrans. The companies didn't disclose terms of the deal.

“A company that is trying to grow their U.S. presence would want strong access to capacity across multiple modes, including truck and rail,” said David Ross, a transportation analyst with Stifel. Mr. Ross estimated that Kuehne + Nagel paid between $180 million to $200 millon for ReTrans. The companies did not disclose terms of the deal.

Global 3PL revenues are growing faster than logistics spending as a whole, with the U.S. market performing particularly well, according to data released earlier this month by Armstrong and Associates, a research firm.

However, Mr. Ross noted the pace of growth remains relatively sluggish, helping spur the recent wave of acquisitions.

“When there’s not a lot of growth people buy to get growth,” he said.

Stifel is serving as financial advisor to ReTrans on the sale, which still needs to be approved by U.S. regulators.


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