MBK Partners said to mull sale of Apex Logistics Group

A woman counts her U.S. dollar bills at a money changer in Jakarta. Photo: REUTERS/Beawiharta

MBK Partners Ltd. is weighing options including a potential sale of Apex Logistics Group, four years after the buyout firm acquired the Chinese freight forwarder, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The North Asian private equity firm is working with financial advisers on a potential sale of the business, which could fetch as much as $1 billion including debt, according to the people. A formal sale process could start as soon as later this year, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.

A transaction would ride on a surge of deal activity in the transportation and logistics industry. Blackstone Group LP this month agreed to acquire $18.7 billion of U.S. warehouse properties from Singapore’s GLP Pte. KKR & Co. is exploring a potential sale for a Singaporean provider of intermediate bulk containers, while Hahn & Co. is considering options for a South Korean shipping business, people familiar with the matter have said.

Apex Logistics, headquartered in Shanghai, is one of China’s largest air freight forwarders, according to MBK’s website. It operates 22 offices in greater China, North America and Europe, serving over 4,000 customers. MBK bought a majority stake in the company in 2015 for 92 billion won ($78 million), the Korea Economic Daily newspaper reported at the time.

The escalating trade war between U.S. and China could cast a shadow over the outlook for companies involved in moving goods between the world’s two largest economies. Deliberations are at early stage, and MBK could still decide to keep the business, the people said.

A representative for MBK declined to comment, while representatives for Apex Logistics didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.