The November 2009 USD 26 billion all cash acquisition of Texas based rail road company Burlington Northern Santa Fe by arguably the world's most famous and successful investor Warren Buffet fixed the wandering investors' eyes on to the 'next big thing' - logistics. "Transportation is fundamental. And there's lots of money to be made", Mr. Buffet had said after the acquisition.
With almost 600 reported deals representing more than $79 billion in aggregate transaction value since 2005, the transportation industry has seen significant PE, mergers and acquisitions transaction activity. Nobody doubts that the deal activity has picked up significantly in India since last year and is expected to edge higher towards the end of this year.
"It will probably not touch 2007 levels but it will certainly approach it", said Manish Saigal, Executive Director & Head - Transportation & Logistics, KPMG India said at the summit. "Deal activity in logistics had not been significantly hit by the slowdown in 2009 over 2008, though ticket sizes had dipped from an average of USD 46m to USD 27m. A strong bounce back in M&A is expected in the current fiscal", Manish added.
Ashit Desai, Executive Director, AllCargo Global, one of India's largest integrated logistics companies listed on the BSE and the NSE explained, "Acquisitions are a critical part of AllCargo's growth strategy". He further added, "AllCargo has successfully acquired and integrated several companies including multiple acquisitions abroad while multiple others were being negotiated".
Vishal Sharma, MD & CEO of Tuscan Ventures, said that the past few months have changed the fundamentals of private equity investing and that India is no different. Investment models will increasingly lean towards performance based valuations and structures that will give funds several options to cut losses at every stage of an investment.
Also, large sector agnostic funds will increasingly co-invest with smaller, sector focused and operationally driven funds to have a greater handle on their exposures.
Vikram Utam Singh, Executive Director & Head - Markets & PE, KPMG advised logistics promoters to strictly evaluate their PE readiness and chance for success (according to him, only 3 deals out of 100 actually conclude) on key parameters of scale, management bandwidth, transparency and exit potential before jumping on the PE bandwagon.
The conference, attended by over 100 top professionals, was organised by the Supply Chain Leadership Council. Supply Chain Leadership Council is dedicated to developing the largest and the most active community of supply chain professionals in India.
Supply Chain Leadership Council is focused on delivering forums with bold and well timed themes, dedicated to the Indian logistics and supply chain sector, thereby providing an able platform for meaningful interaction within the industry as well as for consolidating the industry's opinions and concerns towards policymakers.
"The mood and the buzz at the conference were unambiguously evident of that the deal makers and promoters mean business and the cheque books are back in the front pockets. The Indian logistics sector seems to have turned one more corner", said Gautami Seksaria, Founder & Partner, Supply Chain Leadership Council.