September 15, 2009

Deal or (more likely) no deal

As M&A activity slows in the United States, the BRIC economies see a boom.

By George Weimer

One gauge of an industry's health is the pace of merger and acquisition (M&A) activity. By that standard, the global transportation and logistics sector is looking pretty anemic. According to a report by consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, deal volume in the transportation and logistics sector was down 45 percent in the second quarter of 2009 compared with the first quarter. Overall deal value dropped 55 percent over the same period, the consultant said.

"At the current rate, the 31 deals announced in 2009 with a value of $4.5 billion place M&A activity ... on a trajectory to be 67 percent below that of 2008, when 189 deals were announced with a value of $96 billion," PwC said in a press release. The consultant attributed the slump to the "current negative state" of the global economy.

But the slowdown hasn't hit all regions equally hard. While M&A activity in the United States dipped sharply in the first half of 2009, Russia is on track to exceed its 2008 M&A levels this year, and China is on pace to match its 2008 levels, according to the report, Intersections: Second-quarter 2009 global transportation and logistics mergers and acquisitions analysis.

The high volume of deals in Russia and China reflects a broader trend in the global M&A market—the growing contribution of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) to the total number of transportation/logistics sector deals. During the first half of 2009, BRIC-based acquirers and targets accounted for 20 percent and 26 percent of these deals, respectively, according to the report. This is up from 6 percent and 9 percent in 2000.

About the Author

George Weimer
Editor at Large
George Weimer has been covering business and industry for almost four decades, beginning with Penton Publishing's Steel Magazine in 1968 where his first "beat" was the material handling industry. He remained with Steel for two years and stayed for two more when it became Industry Week in 1970. He subsequently joined Iron Age, where he spent a dozen years as its regional and international machine tool editor. He then re-joined Penton Publishing as chief editor of Automation Magazine and in 1993 returned to Industry Week as executive editor. He has been a contributing editor for several publications, including Material Handling Management, where his columns and feature articles regularly generated lively discussion in the industry. He has won various awards from major journalism organizations. He has covered numerous trade shows here and abroad and has spoken to various industrial and trade groups on the current issues and events of the day as they impinge on business. He remains convinced that material handling technology and logistics are two of the major sources of productivity improvement today and in the future for all industries.

More articles by George Weimer

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