Hervé Montjotin, who had run French third party logistics provider Norbert Dentressangle S.A. until it was acquired earlier this year for US$3.5 billion by U.S. firm XPO Logistics Inc., resigned late last week as CEO of XPO's European operation and president of the parent company just three months after the deal had closed.
Montjotin will be replaced by Troy Cooper, XPO's global chief operating officer. Cooper will retain the title of global COO, according to a source close to Bradley S. Jacobs, Greenwich, Conn.-based XPO's chairman and CEO.
The source said Montjotin's departure was mutually agreed upon with Jacobs. XPO needed to be leaner at the top, and the two men agreed that Montjotin did not fit in well with the new organizational structure, according to the source. No other Norbert Dentressangle executives are planning to leave. The transaction closed on June 8.
XPO, which has been very acquisitive since its founding four years ago, made a big bet in April to acquire Lyon-based Norbert Dentressangle. Beyond the price tag were the inherent challenges of executing a successful integration of U.S. and European firms with different corporate cultures. Adding to the challenge have been the continuing difficulties of Europe's economy and the impact of sluggish economic growth in transportation demand and profits.
Evan Armstrong, president of consultancy Armstrong & Associates, Inc., said that European 3PL growth is running at half of what the firm is seeing in North America. At the time the deal was announced, Jacobs said the European economy looked like it had bottomed out and was turning the corner.
In an e-mail, Armstrong said the XPO-Norbert Dentressangle deal has "proven to be very challenging," and suggested XPO take a page from the playbooks of giant providers like UPS Inc. and C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc. and focus on the developing Eastern European economies, where near-term growth prospects appear brighter.
The source close to Jacobs said he is shrugging off the news of Montjotin's departure. XPO has "a very deep bench of talent over there" and it hasn't "skipped a beat," the source said.