FRANKFURT/HONG KONG (Reuters) – Apex Logistics has been put up for sale by MBK Partners, which hopes to lock in a valuation of more than $1 billion after the coronavirus crisis boosted the Chinese freight forwarding company’s business, people close to the matter said.
The company has seen air freight demand surge as the cargo capacity usually available in passenger planes has evaporated during the COVID-19 pandemic as air travel all but shut down.
MBK, which is working with Morgan Stanley on the divestiture, is marketing the firm to logistics groups such as Europe’s DSV, North American Expeditors or Kuwait-based Agility, the sources told Reuters.
MBK, Morgan Stanley, DSV and Agility declined to comment, while Expeditors was not immediately available for comment.
Apex, which also offers ocean freight – specialising in trans-Pacific routes – as well as trucking and warehousing services, was bought by MBK Partners in 2015.
A number of transportation companies are up for sale in Asia, including China’s CJ Rokin Logistics Supply Chain and Toll’s Australia and Asia-focused Global Express courier services division.
On the back of a strong increase in sales, Apex is expected to post earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization of $120 million this year, some of the people said.
Bidders are expected to value the company at 12-15 times core earnings in a potential deal, these people said, adding that one of the big valuation questions is the sustainability of the profit figures once the pandemic subsides.
First-round offers are due in mid-December, they added.
Reporting by Arno Schuetze and Kane Wu; Editing by Alexander Smith