Kuehne + Nagel (CXE: KNIN), the second-largest third-party logistics provider in the world by gross revenue ($25.9 billion), said Monday it has agreed to acquire Hong Kong-based Apex International Corp. to better tap into the burgeoning e-commerce trade in Asia. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the Swiss logistics giant said it was the largest one in company history.
Apex, founded in 2001, is a sizable forwarder that focuses on intra-Asia and trans-Pacific trade. It has about 1,600 employees and generates annual sales of about $2.2 billion. There are 35 Apex branches, including 10 in North America and two in Europe, according to its website. Last year it managed 750,000 tons of airfreight transport and 190,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of containerized ocean freight. Apex ranked as the eleventh-largest airfreight forwarder based on volume in 2019.
Kuehne + Nagel is the second-largest ocean and airfreight forwarder in the world.
“The combination of Apex and Kuehne + Nagel provides us with an opportunity to offer our customers a compelling proposition in the competitive Asian logistics industry, especially in e-commerce fulfilment, high-tech and e-mobility,” K+N International CEO Detlef Trefzger said in a statement.
Kuehne + Nagel said Apex will continue to operate as a separate company.
The takeover of Apex culminates several years of expansion in the Asia-Pacific region for K+N. In January 2020, Kuehne + Nagel declared it would focus on accelerating growth in Asia after consolidating its footprint in Europe and North America.
The transaction is subject to regular corporate approvals and clearance by regulators in both countries. Kuehne + Nagel said it will pay for Apex with available cash and could tap existing credit lines if necessary. Apex management will retain a minor stake of shares.
Another major logistics deal in the region took place more than a week ago when Chinese parcel carrier S.F. Express signed a merger agreement with Hong Kong-based Kerry Logistics.
(Correction: Apex’s ranking as an airfreight forwarder in 2019 was 11th by volume. An earlier version of the story had Apex higher based on its 2020 volume compared against the 2019 list.)