Parcel logistics firm Radial sold to Belgium's bpost for $820 million

Radial, the $1 billion (yearly sales) King of Prussia “parcel logistics” company that helps merchants compete with Amazon, has been purchased for $820 million by bpost, the publicly traded Belgian postal service, which is trying to build a global shipping network to rival Amazon, FedEx and Germany-based DHS.

The sale means a major expansion for bpost, whose yearly sales totaled $2.9 billion before the deal. Bpost said Radial gives it a U.S. payments and anti-fraud technology “foothold,” in addition to 24 warehouses employing 6,700 year-round, plus 27,000 Christmas-season temporary workers. The company employs about 400 in the Philadelphia area, down from 1,000 in 2015.

Radial sells “integrated e-commerce logistics and omnichannel technology solutions,” plus payment and tax services and fraud protection, to retail clients such as Everlast and Shoe Carnival. It’s been scrambling to keep up with Amazon and protect clients from fraud, at a time when Amazon is speeding up deliveries with its “Super Flex” service and credit-reporting agency Equifax’s failure to keep consumer data from hackers has led to a 90 percent drop in the black-market price of customer credit-card numbers and addresses — to as little as 10 for a penny.

Bpost says Radial shipped about 308 million packages last year. It expects the company to earn at least $65 million in profits not counting financial costs (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) this year.

The deal is “a great leap forward for bpost,” CEO Koen Van Gerven said in a statement. “Offering integrated and seamless e-commerce logistic solutions to our U.S. and European customers will help them grow.” Bpost will hire “all Radial employees,” he said.  Bpost expects global e-commerce sales to hit $4 trillion by 2020, more than double 2016 estimates.

Fraud is proliferating alongside smartphone sales and direct shipping, Michael Graff, senior fraud manager, told the Inquirer last week. “We are playing whack-a-mole. When you shut down a location, they reappear, using different devices and different IPs.” While fraudsters formerly congregated in a few developing countries, today “you are going to be exposed to risk, no matter what. Supply-chain fraud can happen even with ATMs, [which can be] compromised from outside the delivery truck. You need prevention.”

Radial’s fraud-prevention competitors include services owned by Visa and American Express, among others.

The merger is “a critical next step for both companies,” Radial CEO Matthew Espe said in a statement. Bpost said it will start making money on the deal in 2020. J.P. Morgan Securities LLC advised Radial in the sale.

Radial, founded as GSI Commerce by Michael Rubin, was owned by eBay from 2010 to 2015, and sold with three other businesses in 2015 to a group of private-equity firms for a total of $940 million. (Rubin now owns Fanatics, the pro and college team-gear sales giant, with financial backing from Alibaba, China’s eBay.)

The businesses were split among the new owners. Radial, the largest of the four successor companies, was owned by Sterling Partners and Longview Asset Management, which merged the group with Georgia-based Innotrac and other assets before its sale to bpost.

In 2010, eBay had paid $2.5 billion for the group but lost business as more retailers chose to set up their own online shopping systems. Under its private-equity owners, Radial recruited managers from Silicon Valley and sought to beef up its client logistics-planning services.

(This story has been updated to correct the number of employees at Radial.)