Toll on a roll as it snaps up M&A opportunities

The global economic crisis of 2009 may have wreaked economic havoc, but it did have its good points. It has weeded out the weak from the strong in the logistics industry, allowing larger and well-managed companies like the Toll Group to take advantage of merger and acquisition (M&A) opportunities. Wong Joon San reports.

Toll’s growth from a home-grown domestic Australian transport company to a global logistics player has been nothing less than awe inspiring. Founded in Australia in 1888 by Albert F. Toll as a coal haulage business, using horse and cart transport, the company’s present day form took shape following a management buyout by Paul Little and Peter Rowsthorn in 1986 followed by a listing on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) in 1993. From this point onwards a series of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) created a global player with nearly 40,000 staff in 55 countries and annual revenue of over A$6.5 billion (US$5.8 billion). In the last 20 years the company has carried out over 85 acquisitions.

“In the last few years we have been focused on growing our global forwarding business with recent acquisitions in the US, UK, the Middle East and Australia/ New Zealand. Our global express business has recently purchased Footwork Express a very large express road transport business in Japan and our contract logistics business has assumed total control of ST Anda to become one of the most significant 3PL providers in Greater China,” Toll Group managing director, Paul Little tells Payload Asia.

Asked whether the group was eyeing more M&As and what criteria it was looking at, Little said: “We don’t comment on future acquisitions except to say we anticipate further growth in our global forwarding and global express business to round out their networks.” He points out that Toll still has a strong balance sheet and has a great deal of capacity to carry out further M&As.