Deutsche Bahn still thinking about sale of Schenker

DB Schenker and Lufthansa Cargo have launched a regular CO2-neutral freight connection from Europe to China.

As 2022 draws to a close, Deutsche Bahn is still thinking about selling Schenker. Thomas Cullen, Chief Analyst, Ti Insights.

A statement from Deutsche Bahn AG issued last Thursday said that the “Supervisory Board of Deutsche Bahn AG (DB AG) has assigned DB AG’s Management Board the task of examining and preparing the case for a potential sale of up to 100% of its shares in DB Schenker. Decisions as to the categorical initiation of a divestment process and the form any sale may take, will be made separately at a later date.”

Rumours in the press suggest that a sale will not happen for sometime, with Reuters commenting that, “Deutsche Bahn does not expect the sale of its Schenker logistics unit to start before the third or fourth quarter of next year given the current market environment, a company document seen by Reuters”. According to these sources Deutsche Bahn has not decided whether it wants to sell the whole company or just a minority stake.

Another rumour, this time in the German publication ‘Manager Magazine’, suggests that Deutsche Post-DHL is considering buying Schenker. The question of the sale of Schenker has been current for several years. As late as 2021 the politicians were loudly asserting that Schenker was not up for sale and that they would continue to pour money into Deutsche Bahn. However, the balance-sheets of both the Federal Government and Deutsch Bahn said otherwise.

Schenker is possibly worth approximately €20bn and such a sum would hugely relieve the debts of Deutsche Bahn, making viable the promises by both the politicians and Deutsche Bahn around investment and service quality. Of course, any sale would also mean that Deutsche Bahn would be losing its largest source of cash.

As for potential buyers, there will be no shortage. Deutsche Post-DHL may be considering purchasing Schenker in order to re-assert its leadership in air and sea forwarding but others share this ambition. For example, the leading container shipping lines such as Maersk or CMA-CGM, or even MSC, may wish to deploy some of their profits of the past two years and consolidate their position in other areas of logistics, if that is, the fall in sea and air freight-rates does not put them off. DSV may be another bidder, having gone a couple of years without a major acquisition. However, considering the speed of decision making at the German transport ministry, they probably will have sufficient time to consider.

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