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In an analysis of mergers and acquisitions in the global transport sector early this year, KPMG predicted activity would remain high in 2016 - and their forecast has proven to be spot on.

Hargreaves Services (pictured top) kicked things off in January with the purchase of earthmoving and civil engineering firm CA Blackwell Group, in an £11.9m deal. Its chief executive described Blackwell’s operation as “complementary to and synergistic” with Hargreaves’ mining operation.

With a taste now for splashing out, it also snapped up Pryor Group after the business struggled with working capital and cashflow pressures.

January also saw Turners (Soham) enter the fray, boosting its container division by buying Macintyre Transport for an undisclosed sum.

Founder Harvey Macintyre used it as an opportunity to retire, leaving Turners MD Paul Day impressed with “such a well-managed business”, and its “extremely able and loyal workforce”.

East Yorkshire bulk powder haulier Simon Gibson Transport was acquired by French logistics firm Groupe Charles Andre in February.

No doubt Gallic eyes had been drawn by it doubling its turnover and profit between 2012 and 2014, and maybe even because it won 2015’s Tanker Safety Award at the Tip-Ex and Tank-Ex Awards.

Simon Gibson explained to Motortransport.co.uk it was “hungry to expand” and it could now enjoy the relative security that came with being part of a large European player.

culina carrier transicold

The following month led to an announcement that Culina Group (pictured right) had purchased Great Bear Distribution, significantly expanding the ambient network of the temperature-controlled specialist.

Combined turnover was now in the region of £400m and the deal created a 5000-strong workforce. Great Bear’s chief exec Glenn Lindfield said its brand would be retained.

Back in 2015, FedEx announced its takeover of TNT Express and the deal was finally completed in May this year.

In a joint statement, the businesses said 88.4% of TNT Express’s shares had been tendered during the acceptance period ending on 13 May. FedEx paid the offer price on 25 May, a day described by its president and CEO David Bronczek as “a profound moment in the history of these two great companies”.

The Chinese trailer manufacturer CIMC Vehicles bought SDC Trailers in June for an undisclosed sum.

Retlan Manufacturing, parent company of the Northern Ireland manufacturer, said the acquisition was “an important step forward for SDC Trailers and the rest of the Retlan Group”.

NFT Volvo FM jpg

The value of NFT Distribution (pictured left) was estimated at £20m after it succeeded in acquiring Carmarthenshire-based NR Evans, the third such purchase by its owners EmergeVest.

The Hong Kong private equity investor had bought NFT in 2014, followed by Palletforce in 2015 and MD Heath Zarin said the NR Evans deal would not be its last in the UK. Zarin added that it demonstrated EmergeVest’s confidence in the UK market post-Brexit.

For NFT, the move meant it would become the 21st largest operator in the UK by turnover, compared to its Motor Transport Top 100 ranking of 25 in 2015.

Swain Group was also on the acquisition trail in July, purchasing the assets, vehicles, workshops and business of Derby-based Jeffrey's Haulage.

Swain said Jeffrey’s name would remain and that it would operate as a stand-alone company within the group, forming part of its logistics division.

Fred Perkin would remain at the helm of the business, as MD of Jeffrey’s.

Turners returned to the headlines again in September when it acquired Goldstar Transport, forming a group with a combined turnover in excess of £350m, as well as creating a significant competitor to Maritime Transport.

MD Day said it was “a sensible expansion to the business”, seeing as Goldstar (pictured right) was a market leader, had the knowledge, experience and expertise – and he also quite liked them too.

Goldstar Transport

“It’s a high volume space,” he told Motortransport.co.uk. “It’s about who can operate vehicles in the most efficient way. That’s something that Turners is good at.”

New opportunities and a desire to grow led to Irish operator Nolan Transport buying John Raymond Transport in September.

The Welsh haulier is a gold Fors member, runs 135 vehicles and increased its turnover to £21m in 2014. However, it also saw profit almost wiped out, from £56,532 in 2013 to just £153.

The year was rounded off with two big deals that significantly shake up the respective markets in which the parties involve trade: Pentalver is to be acquired by US rail freight firm Genesse & Wyoming, enhancing the American company’s UK rail and storage options and boosting its service by relying on Pentalver’s 250-strong HGV fleet; and Deutsche Post completed its purchase of UK Mail.

The £242.7m deal means the postal operator is now fully owned by the German company and leaves UK Mail shareholders with 440 pence per share, as well as being entitled to a 5.5p dividends per share.