Alpha Private Equity has exited Airline cargo handler ECS Group to Naxicap Partners.

Paris-headquartered ECS has a worldwide network of 137 offices across 47 countries and employs over 1,000 people to market and manage air cargo for airlines. The business has annual sales of more than €1bn, according to Naxicap.

ECS has grown from a network covering 32 countries with three hubs and 50 subsidiaries worldwide when Alpha backed ECS in 2013. During the private equity firm’s hold, the business bolted on AVS in Asia and Canada’s ExpAir Cargo, both of which operate in the same area.

With investment from Naxicap, ECS will look to further consolidate the market by pursuing acquisitions and broadening its services.

“We are convinced that the group has what it takes to establish itself as the major consolidation platform in the market and to be a driving force for innovation in the cargo industry,” Naxicap partner Angèle Faugier said. “We want to give its management team the means to put their ambitious development plans into action.”

Naxicap invests between €10m and €150m in SMEs in France, Benelux, Germany and Spain.

The acquisition was backed with an unirate financing from Ardian.

Partner Olaf Kordes and investment director Amélie Finaz de Villaine worked on the deal for Alpha. Naxicap’s team comprised partner Angèle Faugier, investment director Caroline Lachaud, senior associate Sarra El Mghari Tabib and analyst Michel Abi Fadel.

Naxicap was advised by Archers, PwC and Seabury Consulting with Weil, Gotshal & Manges, EY, Arthur D. Little, Lamartine Conseil and PwC advising Alpha. ECS’s management was advised by Lamartine Conseil and Axys Finance.