Commentary: Consolidating the consolidators
When Mumbai, India-based Allcargo Logistics, the parent company of Ecu-Line, announced it acquired a 100-percent interest in Econocaribe Consolidators, it furthered the ongoing trend of consolidating the ocean freight consolidators.
Allcargo said Econocaribe is the third largest U.S. non-vessel-operating common carrier. Based in Miami, Econocaribe has nine U.S. offices and 22 receiving terminals throughout North America, as well as partners across the globe. Econocaribe provides freight consolidation and full-containerload services to Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. The NVO also offers import LCL/FCL transport services into the United States and Puerto Rico.
Allcargo said the acquisition “enables Ecu-Line to complete its service offerings, both in terms of global capabilities and coverage. The acquisition also increases Ecu’s foothold in the U.S. market – which, as we all know, is the No. 1 economy in the world.”
Ecu-Line once attempted to independently gain a foothold in the U.S. market under founder and former president, Raymond Van Achteren, by quickly opening offices in most of the country’s major port cities. However, with the exception of representation in Miami for Latin American cargoes, Ecu-Line’s other U.S. offices were closed down by early 2001 and it chose to work with other NVOs to handle its U.S. freight.
Shashi Kiran Shetty, executive chairman of Allcargo Logistics and Antwerp, Belgium-based ECU Hold NV, said “Econocaribe has been our partner in the U.S. and we have worked very closely with them.”
Allcargo will keep Econocaribe’s existing senior management in place, including its president, John Abisch. Abisch said the acquisition should be “business as usual” in the eyes of the customers. “We decided this was the best path for the future of the Econocaribe staff, clients and shareholders as Ecu has been an excellent partner for the past seven years and, by formally combining, all should benefit,” Abisch told American Shipper.
Allcargo, part of The Avvashya Group, provides integrated logistics solutions. It operates out of 190 owned offices in 90 countries and is supported by a large network of franchisee offices across the world.
Allcargo is a publicly listed company (on the Bombay stock exchange) and had revenue of 9.92 billion rupees ($158 million) in the quarter ending June 30. The company said it has “an ambition to be a billion dollar enterprise by 2014.”
Vanguard, founded by Owen Glenn, started the trend in the 1990s of wrapping up strong NVO brands both in the United States and abroad into a single operation. He sold the NVO to London-based private equity Man Capital LLP in January 2012 and left the business altogether.
However, ocean freight forwarders can still find neutral NVOs throughout the United States to handle their LCL and full boxes, such as Vanguard, Econocaribe, Shipco Transport, CaroTrans and Troy Container Line, to name several. There’s just fewer of them.