(Adds comment from PAI partner, background)
July 30 (Reuters) - European private equity firm PAI Partners said on Thursday it had agreed to sell Swissport International to China's HNA Group, a deal that will help the Swiss air cargo handler broaden its reach in Asia.
HNA Group, the owner of China's Hainan Airlines, will pay 2.7 billion Swiss francs ($2.8 billion) for Zurich-based Swissport.
"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," Ricardo de Serdio, partner at PAI, said in a statement.
The deal, which is expected to wrap up around the end of the year, marks PAI's exit from the ground handling and cargo services company it bought less than five years ago for 900 million francs. (bit.ly/1IrZnCf)
Swissport operates in 48 countries and generates operating revenue of 3 billion francs. It handles 4.1 million tonnes of cargo a year, PAI said in a statement.
Reuters this month reported that HNA was interested in buying Swissport.
In May, Reuters also reported that PAI was looking to launch a sale or stock market listing of Swissport. At the time, one source said a deal could value the business at about 3.5 billion euros ($3.8 billion).
($1 = 0.9699 Swiss francs)
$1 = 0.9154 euros Reporting by Esha Vaish in Bengaluru and Joshua Franklin in Zurich; Editing by Anil D'Silva and Mark Potter