Kuehne+Nagel sells minority stake in Apex

By Damian Brett

Kuehne+Nagel has agreed to sell a 24.9% stake in recently acquired Apex International to private equity firm Partners Group.

The forwarder said that following the deal, it will work alongside Partners Group to implement a “transformational value creation plan” for the China-based forwarder with key initiatives including establishing new freight forwarding routes; identifying new growth verticals, such as healthcare; and M&A.

Partners Group will also join majority shareholder Kuehne+Nagel Group with a seat on the Apex Board.

Yngve Ruud, executive vice president Air Logistics, Kuehne+Nagel International and chairman of Apex, said: “By combining the financial and strategic expertise of Partners Group with the industry heritage and experience of Kuehne+Nagel, Apex will have access to a powerful partnership through which to consolidate our position in China and further develop the Company.”

Sheng Liu, managing director, private equity, Partners Group, added: “We started following the development of Apex after identifying it through our thematic investing approach several years ago. Apex benefits from the rise of cross-border e-commerce – a key transformative trend that has accelerated as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

David Kerstens, equity analyst, at investment bank Jefferies, said that the deal meant it was likely that Apex would operate separately within the Kuehne+Nagel group.

Kuehne+Nagel completed the acquisition of an 88.5% stake in Apex International in May in a deal worth around SFr1.1bn as part of efforts to expand its presence in Asia.

Shanghai-headquartered Apex is one of Asia’s leading freight forwarders, especially on the transpacific and intra-Asia trade routes. The company has around 1,600 employees across 41 locations. In 2020, Apex generated turnover of SFr2.2bn, gross profit of SFr296m and earnings before taxes of SFr126m and ranked seventh in terms of global airfreight forwarding volume.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including clearance by the competent merger control authorities.

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