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PARIS: Global ground handling and cargo services company Swissport has been sold by French private equity owner PAI Partners to China's HNA Group for CHF2.73 billion.

After acquiring the business in 2005, Spain's Ferrovial Group sold Swissport to PAI in 2011 for CHF900 million

Swissport produced operating revenue of CHF3.0 billion in 2014 and handled 4.1 million tonnes of cargo on behalf of some 700 customers across 270 gateways in 48 countries.

Commenting on the sale, Swissport chairman Thomas Staehelin said: "We are pleased to become part of HNA Group and to continue to further strengthening our service offering and global network."

Swissport 2Adam Tan, president of the HNA Group added: "HNA is excited to support Swissport's world class management team as they continue to provide the highest quality service to the airline industry and their passengers. HNA is committed to Swissport's future success in the global aviation market".

During the past four years Swissport said it has developed strong positions in fast-growing markets in Latin America, the Middle East and Africa. The company also integrated several acquisitions including Flightcare, a leading ground handling operator in Spain and Belgium, IAS (Costa Rica) and Servisair - which it acquired in December 2013 from France's environmental services group Derichebourg.

Ricardo de Serdio, Partner at PAI Partners, noted: "The acquisition by HNA of Swissport confirms the strategic value of the company as being the worldwide leader and consolidation platform in the still fragmented airport services market.

"As identified at the time of our investment, Swissport has proven to be able to successfully capitalize on the underlying market growth in the airport services industry and the consolidation opportunity.

"The acquisition by HNA will enable the company to grow in the underpenetrated Asian markets and in China in particular thanks to HNA's strong roots in the region. PAI has a long established track record of identifying European companies with international growth potential in its sectors of expertise, one of which being Business Services. We are delighted to have been a part of Swissport's successful development over the last four years."

The HNA Group is a multinational company operating in the aviation, airport management, financial services, real estate, retail, tourism and logistics sectors. Last year it generated revenues of over US$25 billion.

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