The transport and logistics sector is set for a flurry of mergers and acquisitions this year, according to advisory firm KPMG, following a year of subdued activity in 2011.

Steffen Wagner, European head of transport transactions at KPMG, says: "This year certainly took off to a promising start. Many companies, particularly in the logistics segment, are sitting on full coffers and are ready for increased strategic acquisitions."

He adds that any activity will rely on three main factors: GDP development and the general economic outlook; the appetite of strategic investors; and the investment pressure among financial investors.

Europe is set to be lead the way globally in M&A deals, with the post and express sector continuing to be a target for investors, due to rising e-commerce and cross-border express deliveries. Time-sensitive deliveries or secure courier deliveries in niche markets will also be a target for private equity firms, due to their high margins and growth perspectives.

Last month, UPS announced its takeover bid for TNT Express, in a €5.16bn deal, while FedEx has just announced its intention to acquire Polish courier firm Opek to strengthen its European operation.

Wagner notes that the logistics market in Europe is "highly fragmented" and the need for consolidation will be a major factor in M&A activity, especially within niche market sectors.

"Opportunities will be in temperature-sensitive transport and food logistics, pharmaceutical and chemical logistics and the transportation of hazardous products," he adds.