Japan’s Unison Capital snaps up restaurant chain

Mid-market firm Unison Capital made its investment in ‘izakaya’ DINAMIX from its fourth buyout vehicle which closed on $630m in 2015.

Japanese private equity firm Unison Capital has made its fourth investment from its fourth fund, acquiring a majority stake in izakaya chain DINAMIX, according to a statement.

Financial details were not disclosed but the firm typically invests in mid-cap companies with enterprise values between ¥10 billion ($90 million; €80 million) to ¥30 billion.

DINAMIX owns and operates 105 izakayas or Japanese style-bar and restaurant under some 30 brands mainly in shopping and entertainment districts in the country.

With the investment, Unison aims to boost the company’s management and capital resources as the izakaya industry faces increasing competition and shrinking profits due to Japan’s ageing demographics, the firm said in a statement. 

The firm intends to accelerate the growth of DINAMIX by pursuing three investment theses: store openings, add-on acquisitions and establishing organisational foundation for growth, a spokesperson for the firm told Private Equity International. DINAMIX targets to expand its store footprint in the Tokyo metropolitan area and over the medium to long-term, it will consider add-on acquisitions as a means to acquire new restaurant concepts, recipes, store sites and trained staff.

Unison mainly picks up control stakes in Japanese and Korean mid-cap companies that are facing business succession, corporate divestitures and capital restructuring. The firm’s favoured industries include consumer services, niche manufacturing and healthcare, it said on its website.

The firm is currently investing Unison Capital Partners IV, which closed on ¥70 billion in August 2015.

Among its other investments from Fund IV include travel agency service provider Yuko Yuko, pharmaceutical company specialised in long listed products LTL Pharma and construction materials and tools retailer Ken Depot.

Unison, founded in 1998, focuses on mid-cap buyouts in Japan in Korea. The firm has launched five funds and invested in 32 companies with about $7.2 billion in enterprise value.

The firm manages $4,1 billion of commitments from institutional investors including the National Pension Service of Korea, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Pantheon Ventures, according to PEI data.

Unison has offices in Tokyo, Seoul and Singapore.