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League table

Morgan Stanley tops Korea's Q1 M&A league table

Mar 31, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Match Group, the world's top dating app operator, has acquired South Korea's video chat startup Hyperconnect.
Match Group, the world's top dating app operator, has acquired South Korea's video chat startup Hyperconnect.

Morgan Stanley reclaimed its top position in South Korea's M&A advisor league table in the first quarter of this year for the first time in two years, after working on the $1.73 billion sale of Hyperconnect to the US-based Match Group.

In total, the US investment bank advised on four South Korean deals worth 4.4 trillion won ($3.9 billion) in the January to March quarter, based on management buyouts, according to data compiled by Market Insight and the FnGuide, a market tracker, on Mar. 31. Market Insight is the capital markets news outlet of The Korea Economic Daily.

Morgan Stanley is now working on high-profile Korean deals for both eBay Inc. and Germany's Delivery Hero. Once the transactions are closed, it will likely rank first among M&A advisors in the country for the entire year of 2021, beating two-year champion Credit Suisse.

The sale of South Korea's video chat app Hyperconnect to the US social media group highlighted Morgan Stanley's deal-making prowess. It proceeded with pre-IPO fundraising and the management sale simultaneously, which ended with the startup's sale to the world's largest dating app operator.

"Morgan Stanley is swamped with work, expressing concerns about the heavy workload of its employees," said an investment banking source.

Managing director Sangwook Cho has been leading its investment banking division in Seoul since 2012.      

  Q1 2021 M&A Financial Advisor League Table

Ranking  Advisor  Major deals  Current deal status    Value
1 Morgan Stanley  Hyperconnect  Sold to Match Group  $1.73 billion
 eBay Korea (jointly with Goldman Sachs)*  Ongoing  Estimated at up to 5 trillion won
 Yogiyo and Baedaltong of Delivery Hero* Ongoing  N/A
2 JPMorgan Magnachip Semiconductor  Sold to China's Wise Road Capital  $1.4 billion
3 Samil PwC Doosan Infracore (working for the buy-side KDB Investment)  Sold to Hyundai Heavy-led consortium  850 billion won
Samsung Electro-Mechanics' Wi-Fi business  Sold to Chemtronics  105.5 billion won
Kumho Resort (working for the seller Kumho Petrochemical)  Sold to Kumho Petrochemical 240.4 billion won
4 Credit Suisse Doosan Infracore (for the sell-side) Sold to Hyundai Heavy-led consortium 850 billion won
Doosan Group's spin-off of forklift business ** Sold to Doosan Bobcat 750 billion won
5 UBS JobKorea (for the buy-side Affinity Equity) Sold to Affinity 900 billion won
Note: * Excluded from Q1 data 
         **Excluded from Q1 data due to intra-group transaction

Among legal advisors, Lee & Ko climbed to the top, beating bigger rival Kim & Chang. It provided legal services on 17 transactions worth 5.6 trillion won, including Hyperconnect and JobKorea. The law firm worked on the sell-side of both deals.  

For accounting services that provide valuation estimates, Samil PwC advised on most of the major M&A deals, totalling 14 transactions with a combined value of 5 trillion won. The country's No. 1 accounting firm also ranked third for financial advisory services.

Write to Ri-Ahn Kim and Jun-ho Cha at

Yeonhee Kim edited this article.

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