CMA CGM Completes Bolloré Acquisition, While Outbid in UK for Wincanton


CMA CGM Group is moving forward with its strategy of expanding its logistics operations, reporting today it completed the acquisition of Bolloré Logistics. It is the largest transaction in the nearly 50-year history of the company and makes CMA CGM the fifth largest worldwide in logistics. However, the efforts to double CEVA’s UK operations hit a snag as CMA CGM was outbid for Wincanton.

Speaking while reporting year-end financial results, CMA CGM CEO and Chairman Rodolphe Saadé emphasized the importance of the logistics business and the company’s strategy to expand operations outside ocean shipping. He highlighted the expected downturn for the container shipping operations and challenging outlook while reporting logistics was providing a strong addition to the company. He highlighted the past steps in building up CEVA and the opportunities through the pending acquisitions. 

“The new entity, made up of CEVA and Bolloré Logistics, is the world's number five in its sector. We will now be able to offer our customers a complete range of services and extend our expertise to new businesses,” said Saadé announcing the closing of the transaction.

CMA CGM used the strong profits from ocean shipping accumulated during the surge in container volumes paying approximately €4.85 billion ($5.24 billion) for Bolloré Logistics. They highlighted that the company had transported 710,000 TEU of ocean freight as well as 390,000 tons of air freight in 2022, with Bolloré Logistics reporting revenues of €7.1 billion ($7.7 billion).

The deal closed after the European Union gave it the green light on February 23 while requiring divestment of operations in the Caribbean. Similarly, the authorities in French Polynesia required some local divestments, and CMA CGM is still awaiting approval to acquire the operations in Sweden.

The next piece of the strategy was the January 2024 agreement to buy Wincanton, a UK-based logistics company. CEVA, a subsidiary of CMA CGM, agreed to pay approximately $720 million (450 pence-per-share) in a deal that was agreed with the management of Wincanton. Rumors of a competing bid emerged at the beginning of this week and CEVA increased its offer by approximately seven percent (480 pence-per-share) saying it was the final offer.

US-based GXO Logistics, which calls itself the largest pure-play contract logistics provider, outbid CMA CGM today by a further 26 percent. They entered a competing all-cash offer valued at $965 million (605 pence-per-share), reporting they have locked up nearly a third of the shares outstanding of Wincanton.

“The combination of GXO’s technological capabilities and global reach with Wincanton’s proven expertise in the UK and Ireland markets will enhance our offering for the benefit of both companies’ current and future customers,” Malcolm Wilson, Chief Executive Officer of GXO said in the announcement. “Our superior offer reflects our conviction in the value of this business and the opportunities the combined company will realize.”

GXO highlights the acquisition would expand its presence in key strategy growth markets in the UK as well as provide “a springboard” to offer industrial and aerospace services across Europe. They noted the price offered is more than a 100 percent premium on the valuation of Wincanton just before the CEVA offer became public.

In a London Stock Exchange filing, CEVA noted the new offering saying “it is considering its options.” While having previously said its offer was the final price, CEVA notes it has the right to increase the offer price and/or improve the proposed terms if it was outbid by a third party.

Under the UK Takeover Code, CEVA now has a maximum of four business days to “set aside” its no increase statement. Analysts highlight the financial strength of CMA CGM, speculating on the possibility of a further bidding war for control of Wincanton.


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