Swissport-sale definitely completed (Candover - release)

The final closing of the transaction between Candover and Swissair Group has taken place today.


Candover*, a leading European buyout specialist, announced today that it has completed the management buyout of Swissport, the airport ground handling business of Swissair Group AG, for a total consideration of CHF580 million (€ 393m).


Candover is underwriting equity totalling CHF274 (€ 185m) with management also taking a stake in the business. A syndicate of five banks, led by the Royal Bank of Scotland, are providing senior debt financing, with ICG arranging the mezzanine debt.


Swissport is the second largest ground handling agent in the world and operates in 23 countries at 130 airports, servicing over 550 airlines worldwide. Swissport’s core markets are the US and Europe, with a particularly strong presence in Switzerland where it has a significant market share. The company currently has 13,000 full time employees.


Swissport has grown organically and by acquisition since its establishment as an independent ground handler in 1996. For the year ended 31 December 2001 Swissport had revenues of CHF1.2 billion. The company has recently been named by the Institute of Transport Management « Global Ground Handling Company of the Year» for the second year in succession.

Candover is backing the existing management of Swissport, led by Joseph In Albon. He originally joined Swissair in 1984, has been President and CEO of Swissport since 1997, and has been instrumental in building the business over the past few years.

Marek Gumienny, Managing Director of Candover, who will join the Board of Swissport, commented:

"We are backing a management team that is widely regarded as one of the best in the industry. In their hands the business has excellent prospects for the future, through a combination of strategic acquisitions and organic growth. The dynamics of the ground handling sector continue to change following the downturn in the airline industry, and it is our intention to support Swissport in driving consolidation across the sector. Additionally, airlines globally will be looking to outsource their ground handling operations to cut costs, and Swissport, by virtue of its network and the scale and quality of its operations, is well placed to win new business.”

Joseph In Albon, Chief Executive of Swissport, said:

"Our partnership with Candover is a strategically important step in the development of our business. With Candover’s financial backing, we intend to pursue an aggressive growth strategy, while remaining focused on the excellence of client service that sets Swissport apart from its competitors. Consolidating our leading position in global ground handling is a goal shared by all our employees.”

Swissport represents the first investment by the Candover 2001 Fund and is another major European deal led by Candover following the e920million acquisition of Picard Surgelés, the leading French frozen food retailer, from Carrefour.

* Candover means Candover Investments plc and/or one or more of its subsidiaries, including Candover Partners as General Partner of the Candover 2001 Fund. Candover Partners Limited is regulated by the FSA


For further information, please contact

Candover Tel: 020 7489 9848
Marek Gumienny Mobile: 07767 488891

  For Candover
GCI Financial Tel: 020 7072 4200
Rupert Ashe Mobile: 07775 781803
Claire Rowberry Mobile: 07720 548159
Annabel O’Connor Mobile: 07711 608747

Swissport Tel: +41 1 812 49 50
Stephan Beerli Mobile: +41 79 638 99 39

Notes to editors:

Candover is a leading provider of equity for large European buyouts. Since its formation in 1980, it has invested in 110 buyouts with an aggregate value of over € 16 billion. Investment in deals by Candover is provided in two forms, from Candover Investments plc, a publicly quoted investment trust capitalised at over € 380 million, and from funds managed by Candover Partners, a wholly owned subsidiary. Candover is currently raising a new fund, The Candover 2001 Fund, which has raised e1.8 billion to date and is targeted to close at € 2.5 billion. This will bring Candover’s total funds managed since inception to over € 5 billion.

Over the last three years the Candover 1997 Fund has invested in fifteen European transactions with a total value of over € 1.9 billion, with Continental transactions accounting for 30% by value and one third by volume. These include, the € 920 million acquisition of Picard Surgelés, the € 160 million buyout of Belgian based diamond tool manufacturer, Diamant Boart; the acquisition of Vestolit GmbH & Co. KG, one of Europe’s leading producers of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), from Degussa-Hüls AG; the take private of Clondalkin Group PLC, a specialist converter of packaging and printing products, in a transaction worth € 550 million; and the acquisition of German-based Pipetronics, a leading pipeline inspection service company, by Pipeline Integrity International.

Other recent flagship deals completed by Candover include the acquisition by Bourne Leisure, the largest privately owned caravan park operator in the UK, of Rank Holidays Division, the UK’s largest operator of holiday centers in the UK, to create a business with an enterprise value of € 1.7 billion; the acquisition of the Nightclubs and Bars division of First Leisure plc for € 337 million; the € 310 million buyout of the Specialised Engineering Businesses from Charter plc; and the € 293 million acquisition of Earls Court & Olympia, one of the UK's foremost exhibition venues.

Swissport is the second largest ground handling services provider globally and currently operates worldwide at over 130 airports in 23 countries: Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, the Netherlands, Peru, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Tanzania, Turkey and the United States. In 2001, it served more than 55 million passengers, provided ramp handling for over 1,600,000 aircraft and handled 892,000 metric tons of cargo.

Swissport offers a full range of quality airport services to its customers, including:



  • Representation and accommodation

  • Load control and communications

  • Unit Load Device control

  • Passenger and baggage handling

  • Cargo and mail handling

  • Ramp services

  • Aircraft servicing and cleaning

  • Fueling

  • Aircraft maintenance

  • Flight operations and crew administration

  • Surface transport of passengers and crews

  • Catering services

  • Station supervision and administration

  • Security services for passengers, baggage, cargo and catering

  • Operation of airport lounges

  • Executive Private Aviation


Swissport is recognised as the benchmark in terms of value for money, customer dedication and cost management. Customers benefit from Swissport’s ability to design tailor-made solutions to meet their specific needs. The company has established a global reputation for being a valued business partner, not only because of its financial resources and modern ground support equipment, but also due to its intangible assets, particularly management expertise and a brand name that stands for superior quality.