Truck Driver News - Trucking Mergers & Acquisitions Looking Up in 2024

Trucking Mergers & Acquisitions Looking Up in 2024

Introduction:

In the world of commercial trucking, the year 2023 witnessed significant challenges, but as we move forward into 2024, the road ahead appears to be promising for truck drivers and industry stakeholders. In this article, we’ll explore the insights from industry experts and discuss how mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are shaping the news and opportunities for trucking companies.

Market Conditions in 2023:

The past year brought about rapid changes and market conditions that impacted the trucking industry. According to Spencer Tenney, CEO of M&A advisors Tenney Group, who spoke during a Truckload Carriers Association webinar, 2023 saw a downturn in M&A activity. Transaction values were down by a substantial 82%, while the number of deals fell by 33%. The shortage of sellers and various factors such as the freight market’s challenges, interest rate hikes, and equipment valuation fluctuations created a unique environment.

Many prospective sellers hesitated to proceed with M&A deals due to performance declines. However, the deals that did go through were carefully structured to minimize risks for buyers. Deal structure played a pivotal role, allowing sellers to participate in potential upsides while providing protection for buyers against worsening conditions.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Niche Markets Remain Attractive: Despite the challenges, trucking and logistics firms in niche markets continued to be sought after. These sectors proved to be resilient to volatility in the spot market.

  2. Strategic Buyers in Focus: Strategic buyers remained active in the acquisition landscape, showcasing their understanding of the transportation market’s cyclicality.

2024 Outlook:

Looking ahead to 2024, the Tenney Group anticipates a busier year for M&A activity in the trucking industry. Several factors contribute to this optimistic outlook:

  1. Normalization of Valuations: Equipment values that doubled during the post-Covid shortage have returned to normal levels, making it a favorable time for M&A transactions.

  2. Pent-Up Demand: Sellers who had delayed their exit plans due to external factors are expected to resume the process, resulting in increased M&A opportunities.

  3. Diverse Buyer Pool: The market now boasts a diverse range of buyers, including first-time buyers seeking growth through acquisitions.

  4. Disciplined Approach: Buyers are expected to take a more disciplined approach to acquisitions, considering strategic fit and value creation carefully.

  5. 10-Year High: The trucking industry may experience a 10-year high in terms of companies entering the M&A space and beginning the exit process.

  6. Rollover Equity: Rollover equity is emerging as a solution for both buyers and sellers. It allows sellers to retain shares in the company, potentially increasing the value of the business for future transactions.

Strategies for Sellers:

For trucking companies considering selling their businesses, there are essential strategies to consider:

  1. Benchmark Against Peers: Benchmark your business against industry peers to understand your position and value.

  2. Reduce Owner Dependency: Minimize your company’s reliance on the owner by building a strong management team. This can increase the attractiveness of your business to buyers.

  3. Early Engagement: Engage tax advisors and transaction attorneys early in the process to make informed decisions about your sale.

  4. Plan for the Future: Consider what you’ll do with the proceeds from the sale and plan for the next chapter in your life.

  5. Effective Communication: Maintain open and transparent communication throughout the M&A process to avoid deal-breaking issues.

The Role of Strategic Buyers:

In the ever-evolving world of trucking M&A, strategic buyers have become a dominant force. These are companies that are not just looking for acquisitions but are doing so with a specific strategic vision. They see the value in adding well-run operations with niche expertise to their portfolio.

The purchase price remains a key consideration for strategic buyers. They are willing to pay a fair price for acquisitions that align with their long-term goals. If a potential acquisition doesn’t fit strategically, buyers are inclined to pass on the opportunity.

The Strength of Stable Conditions:

Interestingly, the strength of the freight market is not the sole determinant of whether conditions are ripe for a deal. Instead, it’s the stability of those conditions that plays a significant role. Stable conditions help align the expectations of both buyers and sellers, making negotiations smoother.

Companies like Trimac Transportation are optimistic about 2024. Dan Carpenter, VP of finance and business development at Trimac, expects the company to meet last year’s M&A spending totals by the end of the first quarter. Trimac, like many others, has a lot of pent-up opportunities and is eager to explore them.

While smaller tuck-ins are expected to continue dominating the M&A landscape, some industry giants are eyeing transformational deals. Canada-based freight behemoth TFI International, for example, recently announced its acquisition of Daseke. This move is indicative of the continued availability of substantial resources in the market.

Conclusion:

In the world of commercial trucking, 2024 is poised to be a year of renewed opportunities for mergers and acquisitions. The normalization of valuations, pent-up demand, and a diverse pool of buyers are creating an environment conducive to M&A transactions. For trucking companies looking to sell, it’s crucial to prepare by benchmarking, reducing owner dependency, and engaging experts early in the process. As the industry adapts to changing conditions, truck drivers and stakeholders can look forward to a promising year ahead in the news of trucking M&A. The role of strategic buyers and the significance of stable conditions further underline the positive outlook for the industry in the coming year. As the wheels of progress continue to turn, the future appears bright for commercial trucking.

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