Why XPO's restructuring process is good timing in the logistics sector

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The transportation and logistics sector is fragmented, and companies in the sector have been making deals as they look for growth opportunities. There were $47 billion in transportation deals announced in North America in 2019, a 47 percent rise from 2018, according to Bloomberg News.

XPO Logistics Inc. (NYSE: XPO) has been very active, making 19 deals worth $7.5 billion since CEO Bradley Jacobs took over in 2011.

Now XPO wants to slim down and is considering selling one or more assets. The company has not specified which units are for sale, mentioning only that it plans to hold on to its North American less-than-truckload business.

“The process is off to an excellent start. There’s a lot of good momentum more than we had expected,” Jacobs told investors.

To help lead the process, XPO named David Wyshner as chief financial officer. Wyshner most recently served as CFO of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts Inc., a spin-off of Wyndham Worldwide Corp. Wyshner led Wyndham’s $2 billion purchase of La Quinta Holdings in 2018.

“He will certainly be a key member of the team that is leading that review of strategic alternatives,” Jacobs told CNBC. “We were looking for a CFO with good relevant experiences. "He’s a well-rounded CFO, he’s tested, proven, lots of experience in divestitures, asset sales and spinoffs.”

XPO’s timing is good: M&A in the logistics space is being driven by a demand for faster shipping and a race to add more fulfillment centers. More local fulfillment centers mean faster delivery times and lower last-mile costs, which are costs for the last legs of deliveries for both retailers and customers.

Some examples: C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc. (Nasdaq: CHRW) is buying Roadrunner Transportation Systems Inc.’s (NYSE: RRTS) prime distribution services business for $225 million. The target operates five logistics warehouses. Also, J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. (Nasdaq: JBHT) has acquired RDI Last Mile Co., which offers logistics and delivery services.

Automation and robotics is also a big need in the logistics sector. E-commerce company Shopify Inc. (NYSE: SHOP) acquired 6 River Systems for $450 million. 6 River Systems uses cloud-based software and mobile robots called “Chuck” that assist employees with inventory replenishment, picking, sorting and packing.

XPO plans to accelerate the pace of adding automation in its warehouses, and the company hopes it will be in a better position to drive future growth.

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