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Private equity

Sweden's EQT staffs up in Asia with focus on Korea

It added two Seoul-based employees to seek out Korean infra investments on top of already strong fundraising efforts

Oct 25, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

EQT Partners CEO Christian Sinding
EQT Partners CEO Christian Sinding

EQT Partners, Europe's largest private equity firm, is staffing up its Asia Pacific team with a focus on South Korea, the investment firm said on Monday, as it is considering more varied strategies for a broader range of targets.

The Stockholm-listed firm with more than €70 billion ($81 billion) under management has recently added two Seoul-based employees, the first in the country, to seek out investment opportunities in Korean infrastructure. The appointments come on the back of its recent fundraising rounds and an expansion of the firm’s broader Asia Pacific platform.

“We are sharpening our Asia Pacific strategy as we expand geographically,” said Thomas von Koch, a partner and chairperson of EQT Asia Pacific, in a statement. “The region’s representation in commitments to EQT’s funds and capital deployed has steadily grown and is poised to scale further.”

The Swedish PE firm has been raising funds in South Korea over the past 10 years, but has yet to make an investment in the country.

"EQT is considering more varied strategies that would target a broader range of investment return profiles and mission-focused funds in the near future," it said in the statement.

FUNDRAISING IN SOUTH KOREA 

Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, EQT’s flagship private equity and infrastructure funds together successfully have raised over €2bn in commitments from Korean institutions. 

To bolster its fundraising capabilities, in 2016 it hired Sean Ham, a UBS and Blackstone veteran, based in its Hong Kong office. After his remit expanded to include all of the Asia Pacific regions, Ham recruited Jay Chae, another Blackstone alumnus, to focus on the Korean market. 

Sean Ham, EQT's Head of Asia Pacific CR
Sean Ham, EQT's Head of Asia Pacific CR

The two have expanded EQT’s investor base in Korea to over 20 institutions, including pension funds, the country’s sovereign wealth fund, and insurance companies. 

SEOUL OFFICE EXPECTED TO OPEN IN 2022 

EQT has doubled the number of Asia Pacific-based employees in the last five years. Since 2020, it has added Sydney and Tokyo offices to its Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai hubs. 

"Seoul is likely to come next, with a formal office expected to be opened in 2022," it added. 

Across Asia, the EQT team has tripled the number of investors and more than quadrupled the amount of commitments from the region raised over the last five years. 

EQT was founded in 1994 as the private equity arm of the investment company of the Swedish Wallenberg family, a prominent dynasty with a 160-year industrial heritage. Currently, its portfolio companies employ 175,000 people and generate €29 billion in total sales.

Since its inception, EQT’s Private Capital segment, which includes private equity, has posted aggregate returns of 2.5 times gross multiple on invested capital (MOIC) and generated a 22% net internal rate of return, or IRR.

Its real estate and infrastructure segment has posted aggregate returns of 2.4 times gross MOIC and generated a 15% net IRR over the same period.

In Asia, the firm has invested in 27 companies since 2006, assembling a portfolio of investments that spans Greater China, Australia and Indonesia, among other countries.

Underscoring the firm’s interest in Korea, its Chief Executive Officer Christian Sinding will give a speech at the ASK Conference hosted by The Korea Economic Daily on Oct. 27. He will speak about the importance of digitalization and sustainability in preparing for the future.

Yeonhee Kim edited this article.

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