MBK test drives Korean car rental company

The North Asia-focused private equity firm is part of the preferred bidding consortium for Kumho Rent-A-Car, a deal expected to be worth $260m.

MBK Partners and Korean telecommunication company KT have been selected as the preferred bidders for Kumho Rent-A-Car, a Korean car rental company, a source close to the deal has confirmed.

The consortium beat out four other unnamed bidders for a deal that is expected to be valued at about W300bn ($260 million; €173 million), according to Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo.

A deal will only be finalised after the winning consortium has conducted due diligence and negotiated the price to be paid for the company, the source revealed. The deal is expected to close by the end of the year.

In July, MBK closed its second fund on $1.5 billion, one of the two largest Asian fund closed in 2009 alongside Unison Capital's third fund, which closed on ¥140 billion ($1.58 billion; €1.1 billion). 

MBK has a focus on buyouts in South Korea, Japan and Greater China. The firm makes investments through management-led buyouts, the acquisition of subsidiary businesses of large corporates, public to private transactions and roll-up acquisitions.

The sale of the car rental company is being managed by Korea Development Bank, which is the main creditor of Kumho Asiana Group, the parent company of Kumho Rent-A-Car. Kumho Asiana is a Korean conglomerate with interests in diverse industries such as automotives, airlines, airport services, chemicals, logistics, financial services, trading and hostpitality.

Established in 1990, Kumho Rent-A-Car has 160 branches across South Korea and 50,000 vehicles.

Kumho Asiana could not be reached for comment. Korea Development Bank was unavailable for comment. MBK did not respond to a request for comment by press time.