It all started with barrels of wine. 177 years ago, a young man named Johann Friedrich Hillebrand founded a company in Mainz on the Rhine to transport the region’s many wines by boat. Hillebrand grew throughout Germany and into the second generation in North America. After World War II, the transport company turned increasingly to tanks and containers. And unfermented juices as well as beer and spirits were added to wine as objects of transport.
Hillebrand is now represented in no less than 90 countries – especially where a lot of wine is grown or imported. The Mainz company works for beverage companies such as Campari or Anheuser-Busch Inbev. And soon it will belong to another German group that is also active in the world: Deutsche Post wants to buy Hillebrand and pay around 1.5 billion euros for it. The logistics company announced it on Tuesday. Until now, Hillebrand is owned by a Belgian financial investor.
“A unique opportunity”
With this acquisition, DHL wants to strengthen its own sea freight business and increase its transport performance by a sixth. The takeover was “a unique opportunity” to strengthen the freight division, said Post CFO Melanie Kreis. Hillebrand complements the existing business “excellently”, says CEO Frank Appel. The air and ocean freight division recently accounted for nearly a quarter of Deutsche Post’s sales. DHL competes here with companies such as Kuehne + Nagel.
Hillebrand last had around 2,700 employees worldwide. The freight forwarder reserves container capacities with shipping companies around the world and maintains appropriate partnerships. Hillebrand boss Cees van Gent worked for DHL himself. The competition authorities must now examine the proposed merger.
Swiss Post wants to pay for the takeover of the proverbial postage – which in this case is meant literally: the group is profiting from the fact that it is carrying many more packages as many people have ordered more online during the corona pandemic . In addition, world trade has recovered from the crisis faster than many experts expected. The capacity of container ships and cargo planes is currently considered scarce and expensive.