UPS Acquires Sandler & Travis Arm to Bolster Customs and Trade Advisory

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In a move that United Parcel Service Inc. said positions it as a “the global customs broker of choice,” and reflects an environment of mergers in divergent enterprises, UPS announced on Monday that it acquired the highly regarded Sandler & Travis Trade Advisory Services (STTAS), the world’s largest independent provider of global trade management services.

“UPS customers tell us they are looking for a full suite of brokerage services, including trade management and advisory services, from a partner that can help them on a global basis,” said Jim Barber, president of UPS International. “Combining Sandler & Travis Trade Advisory Services with our existing UPS Trade Management Services provides customers with an even more powerful set of solutions designed to maximize their trade investments and minimize complexity, time and cost throughout their international trade operations.”

STTAS’s 750 trade professionals provide services in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, North America and South America, and help clients comply with the ever-changing and complex rules, regulations and laws covering international trade. Nearly 70 percent of the company’s employees work outside of the U.S. in strategic offices in cities like Shanghai; Bengaluru, India; Aberdeen, Scotland; Warsaw; Mexico City; Buenos Aires and São Paulo, Brazil. These additional locations will complement UPS Trade Management Services’ existing global operations in Hefei, China; Wroclaw, Poland, and Singapore.

STTAS also provides an advanced trade management technology platform that UPS said it will continue to build upon over time. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

While the companies pointed out their common interests in announcing the deal, the acquisition can be seen as somewhat unusual, as it breaks apart STTAS from its parent company and brings UPS a company somewhat outside of its core. It can also be compared to recent deals bringing together Amazon and Whole Foods, and Walmart and Lord & Taylor, where the agreements serve as value-added transactions rather than purely volume additives in a particular sector.

Earlier this year, UPS acquired Zone Solutions, which specializes in Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) services. Zone Solutions brings UPS customers extensive expertise in navigating all aspects of FTZ operations, providing managed services, systems implementation and consulting.

[Read more about UPS: UPS and Shopify Join Forces to Advance Logistics for Small Businesses and Start-Ups]

UPS said STTAS and Zone Solutions enhance existing operations and add industry-leading trade management services to its global portfolio, forming a foundation the company will continue to build upon. Some of these solutions include duty drawback, regulatory compliance, rules of origin determination, harmonized tariff schedule classification, export control classification, order management and free trade agreement qualification and verification. All such services are designed to free up UPS customers’ resources, improve their bottom line and their supply chain velocity.

STTAS said it will continue to provide the same services, from the same offices with use of the same personnel. It will also continue to serve as a resource to the law firm Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg (ST&R) on joint client issues.

For 40 years, the law firm has set the standard in global trade compliance legal and consulting services. In the last 20 years, STTAS complemented the services of ST&R as it grew from a drawback-filing company into the world’s largest dedicated global trade compliance management company. Under its new ownership, it will continue to offer Global Trade Compliance Management services and will remain available to ST&R clients as needed and as appropriate.

“ST&R is proud of its reputation for successfully providing innovative solutions to complex and challenging international trade regulatory issues, as well as its information and educational offerings, such as the daily emailed Trade Report and its 50+ annual webinars,” the company said. “We are equally proud of the success of STTAS and are pleased that it will now continue that growth under a new independent platform with enhanced resources.”

UPS is a global leader in logistics, offering a broad range of solutions including transporting packages and freight; facilitating international trade, and deploying advanced technology to more efficiently manage the world of business. UPS posted flat operating profit in the third quarter at $2.04 billion, held down by the domestic package unit that was negatively impacted by the series of hurricanes in the U.S. and Caribbean, as overall revenue rose 7 percent to $15.98 billion. Headquartered in Atlanta, UPS serves more than 220 countries and territories worldwide.

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