In the latest global warehousing bid, Malaysia-based Infinity Logistics and Transport Ventures Ltd has agreed to buy Access World — the metals warehousing business of Glencore, the world’s largest commodity trader — for about US$177 million (RM741 million).
The purchase represents a marked expansion for Infinity Logistics, which until now made the vast majority of its revenue — about 72% as of June — from customers in Malaysia and Singapore. But with Glencore’s metals warehousing unit now in the fold, Infinity Logistics will add 300-plus warehouses in over 25 countries, including around 100 locations in the EMEA region and 19 in North America.
Based out of Port Klang, a key touchpoint in the global network of exchange-traded metals, Infinity Logistics specializes in several logistics services, including freight forwarding, railroad transportation, palletizing, labeling and repackaging. The company is listed in Hong Kong and turned in an adjusted profit during the first half of 2021.
Infinity’s acquisition of Access World comes as a surprise to many, who speculated that the Switzerland-based business would be bought by a Chinese company. Access World handles about 20 million tons of assets per year, primarily industrial metals and oil and gas, but sources say the operation has been up for sale for some time amid tightening supplies of major industrial metals like aluminum, zinc and copper.
Glencore purchased Access World in 2010 from Italy’s Pacorini Group, which at the time had warehouses in just five cities but was viewed as a promising investment because of global metal surpluses owing to weak demand after the 2008 financial crisis.
In 2017, the company came under fire when it was reported to have been part of a massive fraud case that created over US$300 million in losses for banks and brokers.
Recently, Glencore has also been selling smaller mines and oil terminals in the US as it looks to simplify its business. Bloomberg reported that the company had been collecting rent on excess inventories during the recent industrial downturn but is ready to cash out.
The deal between Infinity and Glencore is just the latest in a string of transactions involving warehouses, which have quickly become one of the hottest global commodities. In one of the largest sales ever of its kind, CBRE Group purchased a US$4.9 billion global logistics real estate portfolio in January, while other players like Blackstone Inc. and Elion have made similar transactions in the past two months.