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Private equity

MBK's deals rank among top 2021 PE exits in N.Asia

MBK exited investments in three N.Asian countries in the same year for the first time in its 16-yr history

By Nov 23, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

MBK Partners founder and Chairman Michael ByungJu Kim
MBK Partners founder and Chairman Michael ByungJu Kim


North Asia-focused MBK Partners has made lucrative exits from three investments in South Korea, China and Japan this year. They rank among the nine largest private equity exit deals in the three countries year to date, MBK said on Tuesday.

It was the first time for MBK to exit investments in the three countries in the same year since it was founded in 2005. Among the three exits, the $3.5 billion sale of Japan's largest golf course operator Accordia Next Golf to SoftBank's Fortress Investment Group this month marked the largest PE exit transaction in the three countries so far this year, according to data compiled by Dealogic and Thomson Reuters

Last May, MBK sold its 62% stake in Apex International Corp., China's leading airfreight company, to Swiss logistics firm Kuehne & Nagel group for 1.7 trillion won ($1.4 billion). MBK had invested a total of 190 billion won ($160 million) in Apex in three installments between 2015 and 2018.

The exit ranked seventh among the largest PE exits in the three countries this year. It generated more than 800 billion won ($673 million) in proceeds and a nearly 40% internal rate of return (IRR).

In August, MBK sold a 100% stake in South Korea's Doosan Machine Tools Co. to DTR Automotive for 2.4 trillion won ($2 billion). The exit generated an IRR of over 50, its highest-ever return from an exit. They will close the transaction, ranked fifth on the list, by no later than January 2022.

Last week, the PE firm signed an agreement to sell 100% of Japan's Accordia Next Golf to Fortress Investment Group for 400 billion yen ($3.5 billion), or around 4.2 trillion won.

MBK and its co-investors had invested between 850 billion won and 900 billion won ($715 million-$747 million) in Accordia. The exit created more than a threefold return for the PE firm, the largest capital gain in Japan's M&A market so far this year.

"As we are entering a post-pandemic period, the investment landscape has changed notably in the three countries of South Korea, China and Japan due to policies and regulations," Michael ByungJu Kim said in a statement on Tuesday.

"GPs with the ability to adapt swiftly to the changes will emerge stronger in the new era of golden investment opportunities," he added.

In his annual newsletter dated on Mar. 12, Kim said that there was a two-year window following a crisis when opportunities with outsized returns proliferate and a "golden window of opportunity was opening across North Asian markets this year.

According to the data from Dealogic and Thomson Reuters, PE transactions in South Korea, China and Japan totalled 146 this year, up from 133 for the entire year of 2020. Their total value rose to $56 billion versus $51.6 billion during the same period. 

However, the number of buyout transactions involving PE firms declined to 46 this year, compared with 65 for the whole year of 2020, with valuations staying near record highs despite uncertainties caused by COVID-19.

Target company Sponsor transaction value Country
Accordia Next Golf MBK Partners $ 3.57 billion Japan
Tricor Permira $ 2.76 billion China (HK)
AI Dream Advent $ 2.4 billion China
Laird Performance Materials Advent $2.3 billion China
Doosan Machine Tools MBK Partners $ 2.02 billion Korea
Hugel Bain Capital $ 1.48 billion Korea
Apex Logistics MBK Partners $ 1.45 billion China
Zhaopin Ltd. Hillhouse $ 1.33 billion China
Job Korea H&Q $ 79.8 million Korea

Write to Jong-woo Kim at jongwoo@hankyung.com

Edited by Yeonhee Kim

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