Monday, April 8, 2013

Short Sea Container Shipping Line Sold On as Multi Modal Freight Prospects Rise

Money Men Invest in What Looks to be a Developing Logistics Sector
Shipping News Feature

DENMARK – EUROPE – Hot on the heels of last weeks story regarding the expansion of container feeder and short sea shipping group Unifeeder, comes the news that the Danish based logistics company is to be acquired by Nordic Capital Funds from the current owner, Montagu Private Equity which has owned it for the past six years. Given the anticipated rise in multi modal freight shipments throughout mainland Europe as environmental concerns alter the freight transport profile, plus the development of the Scandinavian and Baltic segment in the past decade this will doubtless be seen as a good deal by both sides.

The sale, subject to competition authority approval, will mean that Unifeeder is in the hands of heavy investors in the Nordic and Germanic speaking regions and continues to be part of a market able to achieve unfettered growth compared with other logistics sectors and in an environment far removed from that which exists in countries such as the US where competition is stifled by local legislation as we have illustrated previously.

In 2012, Unifeeder’s extensive network handled almost two million container units and made over 8,000 calls in more than 40 ports and over the past six years the company has expanded into new markets such as the UK and Western Mediterranean, and says it has invested to enhance its networks, logistical operations and management structures. Montague Private Equity management certainly seem happy with the deal, concluded for an unspecified sum, with Mads Hansen, Director and Head of the Nordic region at the company, saying:

“Unifeeder has performed exceptionally well since Montagu invested in 2007 and we are delighted with the company’s achievements. Together with the CEO Jesper Kristensen and his team, we have continuously grown the business, despite challenging market conditions at times, and expanded the company from a local operation into a pan-European business. We wish Nordic Capital and the management team continued success with Unifeeder.”

As ever outside help with the negotiations and Montagu was advised by Canaccord Genuity on the transaction whilst the purchaser was advised by Citigroup and UniCredit and Lars Terney, Partner NC Advisory A/S, advisor to the Nordic Capital funds, explained why his company were keen to buy into the short sea container market, saying:

“Nordic Capital sees an attractive platform for further and accelerated organic and acquisitive growth, given Unifeeder’s strong operational capabilities as a cost-effective quality logistics service provider and the favourable dynamics of the industry. There is excellent expansion potential within both the feeder and short sea business in current and new geographies. Nordic Capital has a proven track record in supporting management teams in realising high growth ambitions and looks forward to taking this next step together with Unifeeder’s experienced management and skilled employees.”

Unsurprisingly Jesper Kristensen, CEO of Unifeeder and now in his twenty third year with the company, has worked continually in the past few years to boost the firm’s operations and he clearly has his sights fixed firmly on the future when he commented on this latest development saying:

“During our partnership with Montagu, Unifeeder has delivered strong growth and we are proud of our development and expansion in recent years. We are committed to delivering a high-quality reliable service and are recognised for our innovation and cost-effective transportation solutions, which have been key to our growth and performance during challenging economic times. We are now a much stronger company to the benefit of both our customers and us, and we look forward to partnering with Nordic Capital during the next chapter of Unifeeder’s development and further expanding our growth potential.”