BlackRock consortium in $300m Korea deal

The firm’s private equity arm joins a fundraising round by South Korea’s largest online retailer Coupang

The private equity arm of BlackRock Asset Management, BlackRock Private Equity Partners, has led a $300 million investment in Korean e-commerce business Coupang, according to a statement.

Other financial investors include Wellington Management Company, Greenoaks Capital Management and Rose Park Advisors. It is unclear how much each investor contributed.

The financing round will help the business strengthen its position in the Korean online retail market, and further expand its direct-to-consumer e-commerce offerings. The business intends to bolster its presence in its Silicon Valley, Seattle, Shanghai, and Seoul offices by expanding the engineering and R&D teams in those regions.

In 2013, its third full year of operation, Coupang exceeded $1 billion in annual gross merchandise value and is currently operating at an annualised run rate of over $2.2 billion, according to the statement. The business now has close to $500 million in cash.  

“Coupang is one of Korea's largest and fastest growing e-commerce companies,” Jay Park, managing director at BlackRock Private Equity Partners, said in a statement.

“Its differentiated same-day service model, deep mobile expertise, and precedent-setting online commerce offering, makes Coupang an e-commerce leader to watch – not only in Korea but globally.” 

The Korean market has attracted private equity investors looking to ride the wave of Asia’s budding consumerism.

For example, in September, Standard Chartered Private Equity, the buyout arm of global banking corporation Standard Chartered, led a $48 million investment in Korean restaurant chain Mad for Garlic, an Italian wine bistro in Korea, Private Equity International reported earlier.

CVC Capital Partners, Headland Capital Partners and IMM Private Equity are others that have also invested in the country’s consumer sector.