Imperial Logistics Said to Explore Sale of European Business

Imperial Logistics Ltd. is exploring a sale of its European business, according to people familiar with the matter, as it turns its focus to core markets in Africa.

The distributor of chemicals, pharmaceutical and consumer goods is working with Morgan Stanley on the potential disposal, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information. Deliberations are ongoing and may not lead to a transaction, the people said.

Under Chief Executive Officer Mohammed Akoojee, Imperial has been looking to dispose of non-core assets and position itself as the gateway to Africa for transporting goods. It sold its European shipping business last year to Germany’s Haefen und Gueterverkehr Koeln AG for an enterprise value of 225 million euros ($273 million).

The shares declined 1.8% as of 9:10 a.m. in Johannesburg on Friday, extending a 12-month decline to 25%.

Revenue at Imperial’s international-logistics operations fell 7% to 1.1 billion euros in the year through June 2020. The business has significant exposure to the automotive and industrial sectors, both of which have been severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

All Options

Imperial said in August that “all options are being explored” for its international business. While the company continues to explore potential air and ocean opportunities, the significant impact of Covid-19 has required Imperial to prioritize its capital allocation on areas that most amplify its African focus, it said at the time.

A representative for Imperial declined to comment further on a potential European sale. Imperial will look to grow its health-care business in Africa, according to the representative. A spokesperson for Morgan Stanley declined to comment.

Having started as a small motor dealership in 1940s Johannesburg, Imperial today employs more than 25,000 people around the world, according to its website. The company split from Motus Holdings Ltd., which retains the automotive interests, in 2018.

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