Bolero, a provider of trade finance digitisation solutions, has been acquired by WiseTech Global, the company behind logistics management platform CargoWise.

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Australia-based WiseTech Global’s CargoWise is a cloud-based supply chain management solution that enables logistics operations service providers to manage processes in freight forwarding, customs clearance, warehousing, shipping, tracking, land transport, e-commerce, and cross-border compliance, on one system.

Bolero’s main product, meanwhile, is the electronic bill of lading (eBL). Started as a joint venture between the Through Transport Club (TTC) and Swift, the company brought the first commercial eBL to market in 1999, and since then has expanded its offering to include wider trade finance digitisation solutions. Its Galileo platform, launched in 2020, connects to bank and other third-party systems via APIs and enables users to create, edit and manage letters of credit, electronic presentations and guarantees, as well as open account transactions and eBLs.

In a statement, WiseTech and Bolero say that the acquisition will directly connect a network of more than 200 carriers across the globe to some of the world’s biggest financial institutions. The vision for both WiseTech and Bolero is to enable end-to-end, digital first trade documentation, the companies say, adding that this will allow for straight-through processing of all data, converging the physical supply chain with digital financial and trade documentary requirements while offering a single view for all supply chain participants, including manufacturers, cargo owners, carriers, banks and service providers.

Speaking to GTR, Daniel Cotti, chairman of Bolero’s board, says: “Selling the Bolero company was an incredibly fascinating process and attracted many interested parties that were looking to enhance their business models at the intersection of the physical and financial supply chain where Bolero is active. It was encouraging to see the various approaches and I am particularly pleased that WiseTech Global, an Australian headquartered global logistics provider, is the new owner of Bolero. This is a great outcome for Bolero’s customers, management team and staff and will provide the opportunity to further expand the Galileo offering of Bolero and its client base and hence accelerate adoption.”

“As the logistics industry continues to move toward digitisation, the need for paperless solutions that provide end-to-end execution and visibility are critical,” says Richard White, WiseTech founder and CEO. “We see tremendous synergy in combining Bolero’s capabilities within the CargoWise ecosystem, creating seamless end-to-end digital workflows.”

“Joining the WiseTech Global group is a natural progression for our business, and a huge step forward for fully digital supply chain documentation, facilitating safer, smarter and faster global trade,” says Andrew Raymond, CEO of Bolero. “Bolero has a proven track record with importers, exporters, ocean carriers, major banks, and port terminals. We are excited by the opportunity to enhance the leading CargoWise ecosystem and provide some of the world’s largest logistics service providers and carriers with digital documentation solutions.”

The acquisition marks the latest big move in the eBL space, which has been undergoing a surge in demand following the forced digitisation brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The greatest competitor of Bolero since conception has been inertia. Covid has brought it up to the top of the agenda,” Paul Mallon, director of legal affairs and co-founder at Bolero, told GTR last year.

Meanwhile, increasingly positive signals from large jurisdictions that they may soon accept eBLs as being equivalent to their paper counterparts – including the reform of English law that is currently underway and last year’s commitment by G7 digital and technology ministers to adopt electronic transferable records in international trade transactions – have created the perfect conditions for the eBL to thrive.

“The G7 announcement was in my view the most significant statement that has come through,” said Mallon. “All of this together is creating an environment where the stars are beginning to align in a way that they haven’t before, and that is why there is such a flurry of activity.”

In April this year, amid accelerating take-up of the eBL solution, Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), an owner and operator of financial and commodity marketplaces and exchanges, entered the market, buying Bolero competitor essDocs for an undisclosed sum. essDocs continues as a standalone brand within ICE, and co-CEOs Alexander Goulandris and Marina Comninos have remained in their current roles.

GTR understands that the Bolero team will also be staying on, and that the company’s knowledge and technology stack will be connected directly into the CargoWise ecosystem once the acquisition is completed.