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HANSA 11-2018

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Finanzierung | Financing From M&A to platform collaboration In the past, many companies have tried to unearth efficiency gains through value chain integration. Is this the right game plan for a digitized future? Christian Roeloffs, Managing Director of Container xChange doesn’t think so. By Felix Selzer No doubt, integration makes it easier to communicate and optimize potentials within a company. Communicating with external partners can cause unnecessary delays, costs and is a source for mistakes, says Christian Roeloffs of Container xChange, speaker at HANSA’s Maritime Future Summit that took place the day before SMM 2018 in Hamburg. The logistics world has recently provided a few examples of this strategy with Maersk Line acquiring Damco as part of the P&O Nedlloyd acquisition and Amazon aiming to consolidate the entire value chain from factory to last mile delivery. »From an economic viewpoint it makes absolutely no sense to have vessel operation and equipment ownership under one roof« At the 2018 Maritime Future Summit, Christian Roeloffs’ thesis was certainly a shock for many in the audience Photo: Meyer Roeloffs explains the strategy as a focus on transaction costs and risk minimization. Integration means fewer frictions when communicating within an organization compared to the outside, less confidentiality issues and better visibility of risks. The risk of hold-ups is better manageable if you can observe the entire value chain compared to just a small fraction of it. »You can argue that these factors and risks are the only reason why we have companies at all. Those are basically just a way for humans to work together and communicate efficiently. In a sense, a company is just a collection of specialists who work together on a ›platform‹,« Roeloffs says. Value can be created by integrating upstream and downstream parts of the logistics value chain. »Today, technologies and digital platforms reduce these transaction costs and remove risks. This makes the traditional company borders obsolete,« he says. As an example he brings up the »gig economy« where specialists – from highly paid professionals such as lawyers and consultants to uneducated hands – choose not to get a job in a company but instead offer their workforce on platforms such as Uber, fiverr, upwork, foodora, etc. This approach, however, does »not quite fit into the B2B vs B2C vs C2C logic of the past but is rather P2B (Platform-to-Business) or P2C,« Roeloffs says. Companies or consumers only need to join a platform to get access to a wide range of services without a further need to search, compare, contract, etc. »Traditional B2B markets will follow this trend,« the digital expert is confident, adding that »M&A activity will not remain the only logical way to increase efficiency along 26 HANSA International Maritime Journal – 155. Jahrgang – 2018 – Nr. 11

INTERNATIONAL MARITIME JOURNAL Finanzierung | Financing INTERNATIONAL MARITIME JOURNAL FORUM SCHIFFFAHRT FINANZIERUNG the value chain and to achieve economies of scale.« Instead, platforms and digital technologies would allow companies – no matter how small or specialised – to work together across company borders. Roeloffs describes his own company, xChange, as an example of how companies can work together on a neutral platform and share their capabilities and assets. It offers an online platform for one-way container moves intended to make it simple and efficient to use or supply third party container equipment on one-way basis. The platform solution harmonizes contracts, automates container tracking and provides instant release references, coupled with seamless online communication and integrated container insurance. »You can stop the race to be the largest and most integrated player« »It is not necessary anymore to take over your competitor to leverage a shared equipment pool,« says Roeloffs, the logic behind joining a platform is access to the world market. It is also possible to add further services from third parties to a transaction such as insurance, surveying, etc. »From industry perspective you can see it as a simulated large, consolidated company which operates equipment in an efficient, market-driven pool,« he explains. Thinking ahead ten to 15 years, Roeloffs can imagine this happening across the entire transportation value chain when multiple neutral platforms will link together specialized actors along the value chain. »Actors in the value chain will be much more specialized than today and instead of seeing mega carriers covering the transport chain end-to-end, we’ll have actors such as equipment owners, vessel owners, vessel operators, slot marketers, agents in POL and POD, equipment tracking technology, ports, terminals, truckers, depots etc.,« the manager says and adds: »From an economic viewpoint it makes absolutely no sense to have vessel operation and equipment ownership under one roof. Managing a pool of equipment allows you to balance out company-specific imbalances and reduce empty moves. LeaseCo’s are a prime example where that already happens.« Of course this does not need to be fragmented down to the individual micro-service at all stages, he thinks. Future companies could still cover several logistical steps, Roeloffs says. »I think the underlying logic is important: Deconsolidation makes sense!« According to the expert there will be some clients who prefer buying from a consolidated entity instead of plugging-and-playing services on a platform. »Consider a large shipper who wants to have a reliable long-term contract with stable rates and a single-point of contact. This role will still exist and also create value as it caters to a specific demand.« Brand names such as Maersk will still be around, however, »the way this consolidator then provides the service will change completely from an inhouse solution to an on demand platform solution.« There will be a winners’ and a losers’ side in the future, Roeloffs thinks. Winners will be specialists and experts who really master their fields and companies able to play on various platforms. Losers will be large conglomerates »who can play everywhere but are no expert« and companies that focus on one single platform, which would mean a concentration of risks. Instead, companies of today should prepare for an »eco-system-future« by dedicating resources to understanding their specific market segment and how »eco-systemification« will affect it. »Establish a robust monitoring as the landscape is evolving quickly and constantly,« the expert advises. »Focus on strengths, decide what your company is really distinctive at and where you have competitive advantages. You exit marginal activities and strengthen the core. While this has always been a good idea and strategic exercise, it is becoming more important than ever.« Companies should also re-align operating models to become discrete internal services to allow inter-operability with the market. »Focus on strengths, exit marginal activities and strengthen the core« »You can stop the race to be the largest and most integrated player,« Roeloffs says. So, will there be no necessity for M&A in the future anymore? »I would not go that far, but vertical integration and vertical synergies as M&A drivers will reduce significantly,« he says. Companies have to differentiate even more to offer added value or lower cost to customers. Roeloffs compares it to the App Store where you get a huge bandwidth of possible applications that use the same platform, but differ in scope of services, price, user experience and interaction with other apps. He thinks that the transport and logistics sector is ready to develop similarily. »There is no need anymore for vertical integration for an improved flow of information and synergies. It’s enough to go to a platform that does it for me. All I have to do is getting myself into a position where the customer chooses me over a competitor.« n HANSA International Maritime Journal – 155. Jahrgang – 2018 – Nr. 11 27

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