In April US 3PL XPO Logistics surprised the European logistics market with an unsolicited €3.24bn (£2.3bn) offer for French giant Norbert Dentressangle (ND).

With the deal, in essence, completed last week ND chief executive Hervé Montjotin, now chief executive of XPO’s European business, told MT that the offer was a “golden opportunity”.

While ND in the UK is a €1.3bn concern, the combined ND and XPO – which will trade solely as XPO Logistics – will have 52,350 employees at 863 locations in 27 countries and an estimated turnover of approximately $9.2bn.

The acquisition was also made at a 34% share price premium, and the Dentressangle family were the majority shareholders with a 67% share.

Montjotin said that ND’s primary concern in the sale was finding “the best solution” for the future of the business.

“When we got this unsolicited offer from XPO and [chief executive] Bradley Jacobs it was a golden opportunity to have this question answered,” he said. “There is a really exciting opportunity about being part of a global supply chain project.”

Montjotin said that since the offer was made on 29 April ND had been in the mindset of business as usual. “There has been no change in the way we service our customers and everyone is now pretty comfortable with it,” he insisted.

“We have been able to complete this in a very short period of time. That is very good news for us and for our customers. This has really limited the time that management could have been distracted.

Norbert Dentressangle Herve Montjotin cropped

“Now this is closed we will move to the next step – a classic integration – branding; finance etc. We are really convinced that we need to promote one single brand under XPO Logistics and the brand will switch immediately,” he said. “There is no room for two brands.”

While the name Norbert Dentressangle will disappear from the logistics map, its distinctive red hue will not. It will be the corporate colour for XPO and a visual representation of what Montjotin said the company stands for.

“We call it the red way,” he said. “We will keep the substance and the way we are used to managing our business. I am really convinced of this. We have experience in the industry, we are strong, we have driven people and we have commitment. The brand is the brand. What is important is the values.”

Outside of ND’s US contract logistics and haulage business, formerly Jacobson, there is little overlap between ND’s European presence and XPO’s North American footprint.

This, said Montjotin, gives the new XPO Logistics a truly global footprint – and the opportunity to expand.

“We really have room for organic development,” he said, but with Jacobs a veteran of more than 200 acquisitions before he made the bid for ND, further spending cannot be ruled out.

“We are very strong in the UK, Spain and France, Italy and the Netherlands and in these countries we will consider some bolt-on acquisitions,” Montjotin confirmed.