Wincanton has agreed to sell all European operations to German rival Rhenus, as the logistics giant focuses on growing its UK business.

The €44m (£38.6m) deal sees Wincanton’s German and French businesses, which together operate from 68 locations, transfer to Rhenus along with 3,000 employees.

On top of the €44m price tag, Rhenus will take on a €30m pension deficit.

In the twelve months to 31 March 2011, Wincanton’s French and German activities generated revenue of €558m and operating profits of €4.1m.

The proceeds of the sale will be used to pay off group debt.

“Selling our remaining businesses in mainland Europe to Rhenus will enable us to focus on developing our leading position in the UK market, where we have greater scale and see significant potential for profitable growth,” said chief executive Eric Born.

Wincanton recorded revenues of £2.18bn in the year to 31 March. However, pre-tax profits of £3m the previous year became a £25.9m loss due to difficulties with a back-office IT project and a weak performance in France.

The disposal is subject to regulatory and shareholder approval.

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