Kuehne+Nagel to sell Apex minor stake to Partners Group

Kuehne+Nagel announced earlier this week that it will sell 24.9 percent of its stake in Chinese forwarder Apex International Corporation.

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Kuehne+Nagel acquires Asian logistics provider Apex International Corporation

Kuehne+Nagel announced earlier this week that it will sell 24.9 percent of its stake in Chinese forwarder Apex International Corporation to private equity firm Partners Group.

Partners Group will work alongside fellow Swiss company K+N to implement a ‘transformational value creation plan’ for Apex together with its management team, as part of the board.

The investment management firms says key initiatives include establishing new freight forwarding routes, identifying new growth verticals like healthcare, and mergers and acquisitions.

A spokesperson from Partners Group said the company has been active within the logistics space, acquiring and divesting assets that serve distributors in the e-commerce supply chain.

“Within logistics, we have conviction in last-mile distribution facilities, smaller urban logistics warehouses, and cold storage units as each of these segments will benefit from an increase in smaller and more fragmented online orders from consumers that are demanding shorter delivery times and a wider range of goods,” said a company spokesperson.

K+N’s completed acquisition of Apex International in May for US$1.2 billion underscored the rapid consolidation that has been happening in the logistics market, accelerated by the surge in e-commerce demand.

Transport Intelligence said top players like K+N have made acquisitions in an attempt to develop scale, generate purchasing power over shipping lines and airlines, and capitalise on growth opportunities, especially within the e-commerce segment. Over the last 16 years, it logged 72 deals for K+N, just behind DHL’s 164.

“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,” said Yngve Ruud, Executive Vice President Air Logistics, Kuehne+Nagel International AG and Chairman of Apex.

Dr. Joerg Wolle, Chairman of the Board, Kuehne + Nagel International AG, stated: “The strategic focus on expansion in Asia, initiated by the Kuehne+Nagel Board about three years ago, is paying off in terms of organic growth supported by acquisitions.

“We believe Partners Group, with its extensive experience and network, is an ideal partner for Kuehne+Nagel,” he added.

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.

“We look forward to working with Kuehne+Nagel as well as Tony Song and his management team to realize this potential.”

Headquartered in Shanghai, Apex is one of Asia’s leading freight forwarders, especially on the transpacific and intra-Asia trade routes, with around 1,600 employees across 41 locations globally.

In 2020, it generated turnover of CHF 2.2 billion (US$around 2.4 billion), with gross profit of CHF 296 million and earnings before taxes of CHF 126 million. It also ranked seventh in terms of global air freight forwarding volume.

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