Business / Companies

HNA Group to acquire Swissport for $2.8b

By Wang Wen (China Daily) Updated: 2015-08-01 10:15

HNA Group to acquire Swissport for $2.8b

Hainan Airlines employee answers passenger queries at a service counter in Haikou, Hainan province.[Shi Yan/China Daily]

HNA Group Co Ltd has agreed to acquire the world's largest ground and air cargo services firm Swissport International Ltd from European private equity firm PAI Partners for about $2.8 billion, the Haikou, Hainan province-based conglomerate said on Friday.

Swissport is the world's largest ground and cargo handling company providing ground services for about 224 million passengers and handles 4.1 million metric tons of cargo every year for about 700 companies in the aviation sector. It generated revenue of about 3 billion Swiss francs ($3.12 billion) last year.

The transaction is subject to the customary regulatory and anti-trust approvals and is expected to close by the end of this year, HNA said, adding that it would also be the largest overseas acquisition by a Chinese company this year.

After the transaction is completed, Swissport will remain as a stand-along business unit within the HNA Group, parent company of Hainan Airlines, China's fourth-largest carrier.

The ground service provider will continue to further strengthen its service offerings as well as global network under HNA's ownership, said Thomas Staehelin, chairman of Swissport, adding that the company is active in more than 270 locations in 48 countries.

HNA Group is also committed to Swissport's future success in the global aviation market, said Tan Xiangdong, president of HNA Group.

Swissport will complement HNA Group's existing activities, including aviation, airport management, logistics and tourism, said Li Lei, deputy director of the securities research institute of Minzu Securities Co Ltd.

Aviation services business has higher profit margins than the air transport business, and the acquisition of Swissport will bolster the group's overall performance, Li said.

As a ground service provider, Swissport can also help carriers within HNA Group conect to more global destinations.

"To reduce the business risk, the group turned to related industries for years through overseas acquisitions, such as aircraft leasing and airport management," Li said.

A subsidiary of HNA Group purchased Avolon Holdings Ltd - an Irish aircraft leasing company for about 2.621 billion yuan ($422.7 million) in July. It is also a shareholder in several European companies, including NH Hotel Group in Spain and Aigle Azur airlines in France.

It is also an opportune time for Chinese enterprises to purchase European companies due to the depreciation of the euro, Li said, as Chinese enterprises will be able to get more high quality assets.

The recent bull run on Chinese bourses before Mid-June has also boosted HNA coffers during the first part of this year, Li said. Four listed subsidiaries of HNA Group raised additional capital of about 50 billion yuan through share issues in April.

Hot Topics

Editor's Picks