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AALSMEER, the Netherlands: Panalpina is to acquire a majority stake in Airflo, a company based in Kenya and the Netherlands specialized in the export handling of flowers and vegetables.

Airflo is part of Dutch Flower Group (DFG), the world's largest flower and plant trader. The acquisition reflects Panalpina's continued expansion in Africa and its increasing focus on the perishables business.

DFG and Panalpina have agreed not to disclose any financial details of the deal. The acquisition is subject to approvals by Kenyan and Dutch regulators.

Airflo is Kenya's second largest airfreight forwarder, specializing in the worldwide export of fresh cut flowers, plant cuttings and vegetables, with a focus to the Netherlands and the UK.

The company employs a total of 167 staff in Nairobi and Aalsmeer. It organizes up to 1,500 temperature-controlled shipments per week from Kenya, totaling more than 40,000 tons of fresh cut flowers, especially roses, each year.

"The acquisition of Airflo further expands our presence in Africa and makes us an important player in the Kenyan flower market," says Peter Ulber, Panalpina's CEO. Kenya, where Panalpina set up its own operations at the beginning of the year, is one of the world's key export markets for food and floral products. Fresh cut flowers accounted for more than 60 percent of Kenya's total airfreight exports in 2014.

Dutch Flower Group consists of 30 companies, which generated total revenues of €1.3 billion in 2014. Airflo is the group's only company involved in the transport and logistics of perishables. "Our core business is the global trade of fresh cut flowers and plants. We have therefore decided to divest a majority share in Airflo," explains Marco van Zijverden, CEO of DFG.

"However, managing the cool chain for fresh cut flowers is a crucial component of our success. By going together with a strong global player such as Panalpina, we can ensure that all customers – growers, importers and retailers – will continue to receive the quality service that they are used to. We will further strengthen the supply chain and benefit from Panalpina's global expertise," he added.

"We are excited about this acquisition," says Colin Wells, global head specialty vertical perishables at Panalpina. "Kenya's flower business is literally flourishing, with expected annual export growth rates of around 5.0 percent. While it is seasonal, it is also characterized by substantial airfreight volumes on routes from South to North, counterbalancing the flow of dry cargo, which is typically flown the other way."

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