3PLs Struggle With Image

Despite the earlier announcement that TNT NV, would sell its logistics division TNT Logistics, the third party logistics (3PL) operation continues to announce customer renewals and new contracts, showing that at least some companies among their customer base are willing to bank on a smooth transition when a buyer is finally located. On that front, the only word from TNT Logistics is that the field has narrowed.

At DHL, all eyes are on the integration of Exel. John Allan, who is responsible for the DHL Logistics division, has successfully integrated acquisitions at Exel and is expressing confidence the DHL integration process is going well. Industry watchers note that DHL has not had the same level of success with integrations, citing DHL's acquisition of Airborne Express.

TNT, parent of TNT Logistics, has its own issues with image. The company's decision to sell its 3PL operation is portrayed as a positive move to concentrate on the express/mail business and maximize the synergies there. Some question the decision not to serve customers' total supply chain needs, but both TNT and TNT Logistics point out that the logistics group is a big user of the express/mail services of its soon-to-be former parent.

Some rumors emerged that TNT NV could be a target for acquisition once it has shed its logistics unit, but nothing more has surfaced on that front. The company still expects to complete the sale of its logistics unit by the end of 2006, a little less optimistic than earlier predictions, but on track with the original announcement. Its goal is to sell the unit intact rather than in pieces. Some of the paring has already been done in the sale of French logistics operations. Further steps to strengthen capabilities in Asia have gone forward while possible buyers have been in discussion with the company.

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