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[Exclusive] M&As

Affinity, GS Retail likely to acquire Korean delivery platform Yogiyo

If talks go smoothly, a deal is possible next month with the price tag of $876 million, half the asking price

By Jul 15, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Yogiyo delivery riders
Yogiyo delivery riders

A consortium led by global investment firm Affinity Equity Partners is the most likely candidate to acquire South Korea’s second-largest food delivery platform Yogiyo, up for sale by Germany’s Delivery Hero SE.

According to investment banking sources on Thursday, the consortium of the Asian private equity firm and Korea’s GS Retail, the retail chain unit of GS Holdings Co., is in exclusive talks with Delivery Hero to take over 100% of Yogiyo.

MBK Partners, a Seoul-based PEF that owns Korea’s supermarket chain Homeplus, has dropped out of the race, although it was among the five shortlisted final bidders, according to the sources.

If talks go smoothly, both sides could sign a contract next month with the value of the deal estimated at slightly over 1 trillion won ($876 million), including the existing and new shares in Yogiyo to be issued, they said.

That’s almost half of Delivery Hero’s initial asking price of 2 trillion won, but still higher than Yogiyo’s estimated enterprise value of 500 billion won, slashed drastically after some bidders questioned the platform’s growth potential.

Morgan Stanley is handling the sale.

Affinity Equity Partners is one of the largest dedicated Asian private equity firms and focuses on leveraged buyout and growth capital transactions. Affinity operates as a Pan-Asian firm focusing on investment opportunities in Korea, Australia and New Zealand, Greater China and Southeast Asia.

GS Retail's convenience store GS25
GS Retail's convenience store GS25

EXTENSION OF DEADLINE

The exclusive negotiations follow Delivery Hero’s request earlier this week for more time to dispose of the 100% stake in Yogiyo.

On July 12, the German food delivery giant asked the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) to extend the deadline by six months to meet the conditions put forward by the antitrust regulator to close its 4.75-trillion-won purchase of Yogiyo's bigger rival Baedal Minjok, commonly known as Baemin.

Baemin is the dominant player, controlling about two-thirds of the Korean food delivery market, followed by Yogiyo (17.9%) and Coupang Eats (13.6%)

Following the COVID-19 outbreak, however, Coupang Eats has been expanding its market share with new services. Industry watchers say it’s just a matter of time before Coupang Eats overtakes Yogiyo if the German owner completes its sale.

SYNERGY FROM YOGIYO ACQUISITION

Analysts said Park Young-taek, chairman of Affinity Equity, is showing interest in Yogiyo as the purchase could create business synergy with other assets the PEF already owns such as hamburger chain Burger King and call center operator Ubase Inc.

Earlier this year, Affinity also acquired the entire stake of Korea’s top recruitment portal JobKorea.

Yogiyo's delivery motor bikes
Yogiyo's delivery motor bikes

An acquisition of Yogiyo could also mean a plus for GS Retail, which joined the Affinity-led consortium as a strategic investor.

GS Retail recently absorbed GS Home Shopping, an online shopping platform, to enhance its presence in the domestic retail market.

Following the combination of the two GS units, GS Retail will be operating 15,000 offline stores, 10 digital commerce platforms and 60 logistics centers.

As part of its plan to expand delivery services for online orders, GS Retail in April last year acquired 19.53% of Mesh Korea, an operator of quick delivery service provider Vroong.

GS Retail has said it will invest about 1 trillion won to expand its infrastructure for online commerce over the next five years.

Among those interested in Yogiyo were Shinsegae Inc.'s e-commerce brand SSG.COM, Bain Capital and private equity firm Permira.

Write to Chae-yeon Kim and Jun-ho Cha at Why29@hankyung.com

In-Soo Nam edited this article.

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