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US, HK public funds join TPG-led group to co-invest $50 mn in Kakao Mobility

Feb 21, 2018 (Gmt+09:00)

Two US state pension funds and a Hong Kong public fund have invested 50 billion won ($47 million) in aggregate to buy a minority stake in South Korea’s top taxi-hailing service provider, Kakao Mobility Corp., in co-investment led by private equity firm TPG.

They participated in a TPG-led consortium which signed an agreement last year to acquire a 30% stake in Kakao Mobility, spun off from the country’s largest mobile messaging app Kakaco Corp., for 500 billion won.

The three unidentified institutional investors completed the purchase of a 3.07% stake in Kakao Mobility on Feb. 13, according to a regulatory filing by Kakao Corp. which owns 69.3% in the spun-off unit after the stake sale.

“The transaction reflects TPG’s investment strategy of encouraging co-investment from LPs, rather than raising a super-sized fund,” said one of investment banking sources on Feb. 20.

In the consortium, Japanese financial services firm Orix Corporation and Korea Investment Partners Co. Ltd. also joined as co-investors and anted up 100 billion won for a 6.02% stake.

TPG invested 350 billion won for a 21.61% stake in the South Korean firm, following an equity investment in US ride-sharing service company Uber.

They bought the shares, including new issues, at 68,027 won apiece.

With assets of 217 billion won at end-September 2017, Kakao Mobility runs the country’s largest cab-hailing app, Kakao Taxi and provides designated driver and navigation services.

It recently acquired a domestic carpool startup for 25.2 billion won.

By Hugh YH Jeong

Photo: Getty Images Bank

(Modified on Feb. 28, 2018 to add the ownership ratios and drop the names of institutional investors involved in the deal at the request of the sources.)

Yeonhee Kim edited this article

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