Kuehne & Nagel ready for takeover talks with Panalpina: Finanz und Wirtschaft

ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss logistics group Kuehne & Nagel KNIN.S is ready to talk with Panalpina PWTN.S about a potential takeover of its smaller rival, Chief Executive Detlef Trefzger told Swiss newspaper Finanz & Wirtschaft.

The logo of Swiss logistics group Kuehne + Nagel is seen at its headquarters in Schindellegi, Switzerland October 17, 2018. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

“We are always ready to talk,” Trefzger said, according to the interview published online on Friday.

Trefzger, who announced separately this week the purchase of U.S.-based Quick International for an undisclosed price, told the Swiss newspaper he would not shy away from large acquisitions, but only if both sides agree to a deal.

“We won’t do a hostile takeover,” Trefzger said, adding Kuehne & Nagel is actively pursuing deals within the fragmented logistics industry that bring new technology, access to markets and customer segments, and synergies that add additional volume.

Kuehne & Nagel had sales of 18.6 billion francs ($18.7 billion) last year, while smaller Panalpina’s revenue hit $5.5 billion.

Panalpina declined to comment, when contacted by Reuters.

Panalpina’s leadership is in flux amid a shareholder revolt that followed a drop of its stock price since the start of the year.

Its chairman, Peter Ulber, said this week he would not stand for re-election next May, a move that came after Panalpina’s second-largest investor, Sweden’s Cevian with a 12.3 percent stake, had demanded he step down after accusing him of blocking merger talks..

Analysts said Ulber’s exit could increase the likelihood of Panalpina becoming a takeover target.

Panalpina’s largest shareholder, the Ernst Goehner Foundation with nearly 46 percent of the shares, followed Ulber’s resignation with a statement supporting an independent chairman - not one of its own handpicked candidates - to fill the post.

Reporting by John Miller and Oliver Hirt; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle