The Top 50 3PLs

A flurry of major service provider deals captured mainstream headlines in recent months, but the consequence of this activity has yet to be measured by domestic and international shippers. Meanwhile, the EU flounders, Asia remains strong, and emerging nations may represent the next great opportunity for the major 3PL players.

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European sovereign debt issues, a tepid U.S. recovery, and a hard landing in emerging markets—among a slew of factors—could provide macroeconomic shocks to the third party logistics (3PL) industry, say leading market analysts. Still, many catalysts are expected to drive merger and acquisition activity over the
rest of 2012.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the transportation and logistics industry continues to be highly cyclical. “A continuing theme in the first half of this year has been infrastructure deals, particularly in emerging markets, that reached a historic high in the logistics sector,” says Ken Evans, U.S. transportation and logistics leader at PwC. In fact, in the first quarter of 2012, the proportion of deal volume involving infrastructure targets leapt to a 12-year high. This “secular trend” toward more infrastructure privatizations and transactions, adds Evans, also drove the relative increase in 3PL “deal value” and volume as a percent of the overall merger and acquisition market during the first quarter.

“Overall, logistics deal activity seems more likely to rise than fall given continued global economic expansion and the secular trend of rising infrastructure concessions,” says Evans.

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