Nippon Express sets it sights on top five place as its seals the knot with Cargo-partner

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Nippon Express has formally completed its purchase of Austrian-based Cargo-partner, paving the way for the Japanese forwarder to become a major international logistics company.

NX Holdings chairman, Mitsuru Saito, said that the merger, first announced in May 2023 would help propel Nippon Express from its current number eight ranking in the league table of global logistics companies to a place among the leading world players, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Kuehne + Nagel or DHL.

Cargo-partner founder Stefan Krauter, who started the business 40 years ago with five employees at Vienna Airport, said that the two companies were highly complementary. Cargo-partner is especially strong in central and Eastern Europe, while Nippon Express is a dominant force on intra-Asian trade lanes and also among Japanese companies trading overseas. Nippon Express will also bring substantial business in the US, where it has 4,000 partners compared with just 100 for Cargo-partner.

Cargo-partner could potentially increase Nippon Express’s European coverage 2½ times, he said.

The Austrian company has grown almost entirely organically in its four decades of existence, said Krauter but 21st Century economics increasingly favoured giant firms. For example, a company with just 4,000 employees now needed to make a similar level of investment in IT systems as one with 70,000, so clearly the economics of scale favoured mega-corporations.

The merger also dovetails with Nippon Express’s ambition to focus on non-Japanese corporate business and it would also allow it to offer more attractive rates and services on many cross-trades.

The two partners said that they did not expect that there would be any “sudden changes” to existing operations and that the Cargo-partner management and brand name would remain  in place. However, with the merger now given the formal green light, the two companies were now in a position to hold discussions on important matters such as IT and processes or carbon emissions.

New Cargo-partner chief executive Luca Ferrara, said that the two companies hoped to finalise their plans over the next 100 days.

Acquisition of Cargo-partner will not mark the end of Nippon Express’s ambitions. Mitsuru Saito said that the company was holding discussions with 5-10 other potential acquisition targets, particularly in Africa and India although these would necessarily all come to fruition.

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