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February 22, 2021 11:30 AM, EST

Kuehne + Nagel Buys Apex Logistics in $1.5 Billion Deal

Trucks and trailers at the Kuehne + Nagel International AG logistics center in Haiger, Germany.Trucks and trailers at the Kuehne + Nagel International AG logistics center in Haiger, Germany. (Alex Kraus/Bloomberg News)

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Kuehne + Nagel International AG has agreed to acquire Apex International Corp. in a deal that values the freight forwarder at about $1.5 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Swiss logistics firm announced the transaction on Feb. 22 without providing any financial terms. Kuehne + Nagel is going to buy a majority stake in Apex Logistics from North Asia-focused private equity firm MBK Partners, which invested in the company in 2015. The management of Apex Logistics will retain a minority stake after the transaction, according to the statement.

Kuehne + Nagel Americas ranks No. 10 on the Transport Topics Top 50 list of the largest logistics companies in North America.

MBK last year revived the sale of its majority stake in Apex Logistics after a previous disposal plan was put on hold due to trade tensions between China and the U.S., people familiar with the matter had said, who asked not to be identified as the information is private.

Kuehne + Nagel’s acquisition of Apex Logistics is still subject to conditions, including merger clearance by competition authorities, according to the statement. The purchase will be financed by its available resources, which could include credit lines if needed. Representatives for MBK and Kuehne + Nagel declined to comment on the valuation of the deal.

The takeover would increase Kuehne + Nagel’s Asian exposure from 10% to about 18% of revenues and will provide a compelling proposition in logistics in Asia, focusing on e-commerce fulfillment, hi-tech and e-mobility, Jefferies analyst David Kerstens wrote in a report Feb. 22.

Apex Logistics has about 1,600 employees and generates annual turnover in excess of $2.3 billion (2.1 billion swiss francs), the statement shows. Transportation and logistics companies have seen a surge in demand amid a boom in e-commerce, one of the beneficiaries of coronavirus-driven lockdowns.

The sale of Apex Logistics’ stake marks the second deal that MBK announced in about three months. The private equity firm in November agreed to acquire all of the Car Inc. shares it didn’t already own in a deal that valued the Hong Kong-listed firm at about $1.1 billion.

— With assistance from Leonard Kehnscherper and Richard Weiss.

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