Freight forwarding and logistics provider Kuehne+Nagel International AG has sold off a one-quarter ownership stake in its Asian freight forwarding business Apex International Corp. to the private equity firm Partners Group, just five months after buying Apex in the largest merger deal in Kuehne+Nagel’s history.
"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,” Joerg Wolle, chairman of the board for Kuehne + Nagel International AG, said in a release.
The German logistics giant had bought Apex for an undisclosed sum in February, saying the deal would offer its customers access to Asian supply chain services in e-commerce fulfillment, high-tech, and e-mobility. Shanghai-based Alex was founded in 2001, now employs 1,600 people, and has developed a strong share of the freight forwarding market on the transpacific and intra-Asia trade routes.
Kuehne+Nagel has now sold a 24.9% equity stake in Apex and said that Partners Group would join it with a seat on the Apex board of directors. Together, the two ownership partners plan to implement a “transformational value creation plan” for Apex, centered on initiatives such as establishing new freight forwarding routes, identifying new growth verticals like healthcare, and increasing mergers and acquisition activity.
Like companies through the logistics spectrum, Apex has seen a rise in demand for e-commerce services throughout the pandemic, according to Sheng Liu, managing director for private equity with Partners Group. "We started following the development of Apex after identifying it through our thematic investing approach several years ago,” Liu said in a release. “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."