A €3.2bn (£2.3bn) acquisition of French transport and logistics giant Norbert Dentressangle by US group XPO Logistics could be just the first in a series of takeovers of European companies the Greenwich, Connecticut firm's chairman Bradley Jacobs has said.

Speaking the day after news of the takeover emerged, Jacobs said XPO's move to acquire ND could result in a number of further takeovers in the next two years.

"With ND, we have a whole new platform, a whole new geographic area, to do more acquisitions. We have already examined ND's top acquisition targets... and I'm happy we know where the landmines are and where the crown jewels are," he said.

"There are definitely things that make sense for XPO to do in Europe in terms of acquisitions. Now that we have the great platform of ND with us... there are some interesting things to do here."

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The ND acquisition, announced on 28 April, has yet to be approved by European and North American authorities but given the lack of existing XPO operations in Europe, EU anti-trust authorities are not expected to object, he said.

The addition of ND's 42,000 staff, 662 sites and €5.1bn of turnover will leave XPO with over 52,000 employees at 863 locations and global revenues of some $8.5bn, making it one of the world’s top 10 logistics companies with access to around 90% of the eurozone’s GDP-producing regions, said Jacobs.

While the move will result in the disappearance of the ND brand, XPO intends to maintain its European HQ at ND's head office in Lyon and has no plans for any redundancies.

Norbert Dentressangle Valera two man delivery

All senior ND managers are expected to remain in the operation including current chief executive Hervé Montjotin, who will continue to act as chief executive officer of the European business.

In addition to growth by acquisition, said Jacobs, there was also plenty of scope for the European business to grow organically. The current trend towards outsourcing – which accounts for only 27% of operations across Europe – provides considerable scope for growth, he said, and XPO also believes the European economy has bottomed which should give it a further boost.

“If we're right, we'll get a little wind to our back in terms of organic growth there," Jacobs said.

Logistics sector M&A predictions becoming reality after £2.3bn Norbert Dentressangle bid

Jacobson proved the catalyst

ND's takeover of US firm Jacobson last autumn turns out to have been the catalyst behind XPO's subsequent acquisition of the French giant.

The purchase of the Des Moines, Iowa-based contract logistics and transport provider for $750m in September was heralded by ND chief executive Hervé Montjotin at the time as the start of a "new step in our development in the US".

In actual fact, it served to bring ND to XPO's attention, said Jacobs.

"We wanted to buy Jacobson and thought it would be a perfect fit with XPO. Unfortunately, Norbert Dentressangle beat us in that transaction - and that's why we started studying ND,” he said.

“Jacobson was something we'd had our eye on for a long time and we were extremely disappointed we didn't get it. But it was a blessing in disguise because it introduced us to ND.”

Norbert Dentressangle in the UK - key dates

1978 – Norbert Dentressangle begins operating vehicles in the UK

1992 – acquires Aston Clinton Haulage

1994 – Buys Professional Tanker Services

1995 – acquires Sheddick Transport.

1997 – buys AJG International Transport

2007 –buys Christian Salvesen for £254m

2008 – implements a turnaround plan for the ‘poorly managed’ Salvesen transport division.

2010 – acquires TDG for £196m

2014 – ND extends its contract with retailer Marks & Spencer for a further five years, expanding upon their 25 year relationship. It signs a similar deal with Morrisons, marking the exact same milestones. It also wins a three year contract with motor fuels supplier Harvest Energy from incumbent Suttons.

2014 – ND in the UK accounts for €1.34bn (£1.01bn), 29% of the group’s annual turnover in 2014, up from €1.21bn the previous year.