Deutsche Post to acquire sea freight forwarder Hillebrand for $1.8 billion

FILE PHOTO: A Deutche Post sign stands in front of the Bonn Post Tower, the headquarters of German postal and logistics group Deutsche Post DHL, in Bonn, Germany March 11, 2015. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

DUESSELDORF (Reuters) -Deutsche Post said on Tuesday it was acquiring ocean freight forwarder J.F. Hillebrand Group for 1.5 billion euros ($1.8 billion) in cash, as part of a strategy to strengthen its core logistics operations.

The move comes as shortages of freight capacity - both ocean and air - have pushed up shipping costs globally, with the coronavirus pandemic also extending port waiting times due to labour shortages and traffic disruptions.

Global supply chains have been pushed towards breaking point by COVID-19 and natural disasters, threatening flows of raw materials, parts and consumer goods, according to companies, economists and shipping specialists.

Deutsche Post DHL Group, one of the world’s biggest logistics groups, said it expected the fast-growing business would contribute to earnings from day one.

“The acquisition of Hillebrand is a unique opportunity for Deutsche Post DHL Group to add high quality ocean freight services with strong margin characteristics and high cash flow generation,” said finance chief Melanie Kreis.

The agreed purchase of Hillebrand, which generated 1.4 billion euros in revenues over the past 12 months and is expected to ship half a million containers this year, will be paid for out of available cash, Deutsche Post said.

The transaction, subject to regulatory approval in jurisdictions including the European Union and the United States, is expected to close in the coming months.

($1 = 0.8499 euros)

Reporting by Matthias Inverardi, Writing by Douglas Busvine and Emma ThomassonEditing by Madeline Chambers