Challenges and Opportunities in a Key Sector of the Economy: Transportation and Logistics – Mergers and Acquisitions

Pablo Gómez, Director para “El Economista”


It is well known that the transport and logistics sector plays a key role in the economic development of any country, especially in the context of globalization and the continuous growth of international trade. Since the creation of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade after World War II to reduce tariffs, quotas, and other barriers to export and import, international trade has grown by 4,500% (between 1950 and 2022) according to data from the World Trade Organization.

During the pandemic, it emerged as a fundamental service to ensure the continuity of essential activities and to secure the supply of food and medical products to the population. Shortly after, when an Evergreen container ship got stuck in the Suez Canal and international trade came to a halt for almost a week, the essential nature of transportation and logistics was once again highlighted. Special mention should also be made of the inflation in prices experienced during 2022, among other reasons, due to the increase in maritime transport rates as a consequence of supply chain issues generated by the pandemic.

In other words, it is an activity that directly impacts our way of life: how we consume, what we consume, and at what price.

The challenges facing the sector in the coming years are certainly not insignificant, highlighting, among others: i) The shortage and average age of truck drivers (47 years European average, >50 years in Spain), as already warned by the International Road Transport Union, is a key challenge, given that 75% of goods are transported by road. ii) Digital transformation and the use of big data will help in route planning, efficient management, and administration of journeys with control over routes and times, allowing for differential service. iii) With freight transport responsible for 10% of global CO2 emissions, according to data from the IEA, sustainability is a key challenge that the sector is addressing with the goal of finding a balance between ecological and economic aspects. iv) The lack of generational succession in the ownership of many companies in the sector also poses a risk to the continuity of the activity.

But, as always happens, where there are challenges, opportunities also arise, and Spain is already an important logistics hub today, but it can aspire to become one of the logistical powers of the future for various reasons:

  • The geostrategic position favors access to a global market of over 500 million consumers in Europe.
  • The Mediterranean Corridor connects Spanish seaports with a railway corridor linking North Africa to Central Europe through Spain. The Atlantic Corridor also provides inland and maritime connections between the Iberian Peninsula and France and Germany.
  • Spain leads Europe in its high-speed rail network and has the most extensive network of highways in Europe. It boasts 46 ports along more than 8,000 km of coastline.
  • More than 279 logistics parks covering an area exceeding 83.7 million square meters

All of this has led various industrial and financial players, both domestic and international, to focus their investments in this sector, aiming to carry out a consolidation process that results in a robust and larger-than-average industry. Gaining scale is crucial when competing at the international level, being able to address sector challenges effectively, attract talent, etc.

This growth involves both organic and inorganic strategies, where mergers and acquisitions (M&A) operations play a key role

Nevertheless, it is expected that in the coming years, there will continue to be significant activity in corporate operations driven by the market’s consolidation potential, the challenges the sector faces, and the key competitive positioning that large domestic and international companies seek to achieve. This involves an increasingly broader geographical reach and an expanding portfolio of services for their clients, adding more value.



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