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PEFs

Affirma, EastBridge to invest $350 mn in SK's mobility venture

By Mar 11, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Affirma, EastBridge to invest 0 mn in SK's mobility venture

 

Affirma Capital and South Korea-based EastBridge Partners will invest a combined 400 billion won ($350 million) in SK Telecom Co.'s mobility spin-off, which is furthering its push into the market in partnership with US ride-hailing service firm Uber Technologies Inc. 

SK Telecom, the country’s top mobile carrier, has decided to increase the size of external funding for T Map Mobility Co. from the earlier planned 300 billion won, to receive investments from each of the two most aggressive bidders, according to investment banking sources on Mar. 10.

Singapore-based Affirma and EastBridge will each pony up 200 billion into the venture. They are now in the final stages of talks with SK Telecom.

Among the shortlisted bidders, Affirma, a buyout firm spun off from Standard Chartered and EastBridge, an emerging markets-focused PEF, were the closest competitors to win the funding deal, handled by Standard Chartered Securities.

SK Telecom was seeking to raise fresh money for the mobility spin-off to challenge the sector's dominant leader Kakao Mobility, a unit of the country's top mobile messenger app. Last October, T Map Mobility joined hands with Uber, which agreed to invest around $50 million in the SK Telecom unit, as well as an additional $100 million investment in their joint venture, UT LLC, to be established this year. 

The JV will combine the taxi-hailing services of both Uber and T Map Mobility and also unveil subscription-based new services such as car sharing, last-mile delivery, designated driving and car parking.  

T Map Mobility plans to raise its enterprise value to 4.5 trillion won, compared to the 1 trillion won estimated by Uber last year.

GLOBAL PEFs IN KOREAN MOBILITY SERVICE FIRMS

EastBridge is led by Choi Dongsuk, an ex-Goldman Sachs' Korean investment banking co-head. He worked at Goldman between 2002 and early 2017 and led its Korean investment banking division between 2014 and 2017.

A cousin of SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, Choi started his career at SK Chemicals and boasts a broad network among the top management of business groups. 

Affirma Capital has been an active investor in South Korea. Last year, it reaped around 10 times its investment in EMC, after selling its 100% stake sale in the country's largest waste treatment firm to SK Engineering & Construction Co.

Kakao Mobility, commanding 80% of the domestic market, drew $200 million in investment from The Carlyle Group last month. The taxi-hailing service app is also in negotiations with Google Inc. to raise between $50 million and $100 million.

SK Group picked mobility service as one of its new growth engines, signaling head-to-head competition with Kakao Mobility, which is advancing into the pet taxi service company after acquiring Pet Me Up.

The car-sharing startup SoCar Inc. is also preparing to join the fray after it received 50 billion won in funding from the domestic private equity firm SG Private Equity last year. SoCar, launched by the country's No. 2 internet portal Daum Communications' founder Lee Jae-woong, has been steadily increasing its presence, providing designated driver services and online used car sales as well.

Write to Chae-Yeon Kim at why29@hankyung.com

Yeonhee Kim edited this article.

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