Korea deals a bright spot in Asia

Deal volume and value dropped year-on-year across the region in 2012, according to data from Mergermarket, with one exception: Korea.

Private equity deal volume and value declined in almost all Asian markets in 2012, with the exception of Korea, where deal value more than doubled, according to data from Mergermarket.

In Asia as a whole, 228 deals totaling $32 billion closed in 2012, representing a 16 percent drop in volume and a 36 percent drop in value compared to 2011 when 274 deals totaling $50 billion closed.

In certain markets, the drop was dramatic. Greater China, for example, had a 42 percent drop in annual deal value to $9.9 billion from $17 billion in 2011. Southeast Asia as a whole had a 59 percent drop in deal value to $3.7 billion from the $9 billion reported in 2011.

The exception was Korea, where deal value soared 127 percent to $4.3 billion, the data showed. Volume remained fairly steady, declining to 24 deals from 28 in 2011. 

In all, Korea alone made up almost an eighth of Asia’s deal value, according to the data.

Hae-Joon Joseph Lee, partner and senior managing director of IMM Private Equity in Korea, suggests that the country is getting noticed now because Asia is going through so much economic uncertainty. He pointed to China’s weak IPO markets and India's regulatory uncertainty. Korea, on the other hand, is a much more mature market, he said.

“Now the older private equity markets in Asia (such as Korea) are getting a second look,” Lee said.

The data also revealed that the final quarter was the busiest one of the year for the region and each successive quarter in 2012 showed a steady increase of around $1 billion in deal value.