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[Exclusive] M&As

IMM PE to buy $1.3 bn stake in Korea’s top furniture brand Hanssem

Hanssem's key shareholders agree to sell a 30% stake as none of the founder’s offspring emerges as his successor

By Jul 14, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Hanssem is Korea's top furniture and home furnishing brand
Hanssem is Korea's top furniture and home furnishing brand

Hanssem Co., South Korea’s largest furniture and home furnishing company, said on Wednesday its honorary chairman and other key shareholders have signed a preliminary agreement to sell a controlling stake in the company to Seoul-based IMM Private Equity.

Cho Chang-gul, Hanssem’s founder and honorary chairman, and seven related parties will be selling their combined 30.21% stake in the company to IMM PE, according to a Hanssem regulatory filing in response to Market Insight's earlier report on the possible deal. 

Earlier in the day, sources told Market Insight that both sides could sign an initial agreement as early as this weekend. They have been in negotiations without hiring a third-party manager to handle the deal, the sources said. Market Insight is the capital news outlet of The Korea Economic Daily.

The report sent Hanssem's shares 25% higher to finish Wednesday at a three-year high of 165,000 won.

The Hanssem founder offered 220,000 won per share for a total of 1.5 trillion won ($1.3 billion), according to the sources. The offering is a 33.3% premium to Wednesday's closing price.

Industry watchers said Cho plans to give up the company as none of his family members expressed willingness to succeed the 82-year-old founder to run the furniture maker.

His only son died in 2012 and his three daughters each own 1.32%, 0.88% and 0.72% of the company but none of them are involved in the management of Hanssem.

SECOND ATTEMPT

The stake sale is Hanssem’s second attempt.

The furniture maker negotiated a stake sale with global private equity firm Carlyle and Korean investment company MBK Partners two and a half years ago, but the talks failed over price differences. At the time, Cho proposed 200,000 won a share for the stake sale.

Hanssem logo
Hanssem logo

The top Korean furniture brand is known for offering total home interior packages, including materials, furniture and the kitchen on both online and offline platforms.

IMM PE owns 36.24% of Oheim Int Co., a domestic online furniture seller, which is expected to benefit from a business tie-up with Hanssem. 

Hanssem pioneered Korea’s kitchen furniture industry in 1970, and then entered the interior and remodeling businesses, characterized by the country’s first large showrooms that provide with hands-on experience of house decorations for a kitchen, bedrooms and a living room at one place.

In 2013, Hanssem joined the 1 trillion won sales club for the first time as a furniture maker. Four years later, it posted consolidated sales of about 2 trillion won with an operating profit of 140.5 billion won.

However, in 2018 the company’s operating profit halved to 56 billion won on revenue of 1.93 trillion won.

Hanssem’s business performance has since been on a decline in the face of growing competition with local rival Hyundai Livart Furniture and global furniture giant IKEA, which first entered the Korean market in 2014.

IMPROVING OUTLOOK

In its efforts to compete against its rivals, Hanssem upgraded its services by launching a next-day courier service at its online Hanssem Mall in 2019, the first of its kind in Korea.

Hanssem headquarters
Hanssem headquarters

In July 2020, the company expanded such a service to cover 700 items from 30 earlier.

With data on three-dimensional blueprints for about 50,000 apartments across the country, Hanssem last week invested 3 billion won in Goqual Inc., a Korean Internet of Things (IoT) company specialized in smart home interior and design.

Analysts expect Hanssem’s business performance to improve in coming quarters on rising demand for home interior and new furniture in the pandemic-cause stay-at-home environment.

The domestic furniture market topped the 10 trillion won mark for the first time last year.

Write to Chae-Yeon Kim and Gyeong-Jin Min at min@hankyung.com

In-Soo Nam and Yeonhee Kim edited this article.

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