Speculators Pile in as Bid Spotlight Falls on Exel

Article excerpt

Byline: ROBERT LEA

IN the global corporate marketplace there are few British champions, but amid the axle grease of logistics Exel is a world leader, writes Robert Lea.

Yet if the so-called men in dark glasses who fuel the City rumour mill are to be believed, Exel's independence may not last, with the company, which has its roots in Margaret Thatcher's 1980s privatisation programme, finally falling to expansionist US giant UPS.

Exel shares soared by up to 20% this week as speculators took UPS executivesat their word when they told analystsmerger and acquisitions action was likely in European logistics. If UPS is talking European logistics, it is talking Exel, the argument goes.

"In logistics it [Exel] is bigger than anyone else, it is in more places than anyone else and it serves more industries than anyone," says Arbuthnot analyst Alastair Gunn.

Exel is best known in Britain for running the warehousing and delivery of goods for the likes of Marks & Spencer and House of Fraser and delivering to pubs and off-licences via its Tradeteam brand. …