Morgan Stanley Asia buys Korean restaurant chain

Morgan Stanley Private Equity Asia has taken control of Nolboo for a reported sum of $108m.

Morgan Stanley Private Equity Asia has bought a majority stake in Korean restaurant franchiser Nolboo, a source close to the situation confirmed to PE Asia.

Financial terms of the transaction were unavailable as MSPEA declined to comment. However, a local newspaper report suggested that the deal was worth KRW120 billion (€78 million; $108 million).

Headquartered in Seoul, Nolboo operates more than 700 restaurants in South Korea and overseas including China, Singapore and Thailand.

Quite a few private equity investments have gone into the Asian food and beverage industries as of late.

In October, Bain Capital acquired Japanese restaurant chain Skylark in a deal worth $2.1 billion, while The Blackstone Group made its first foray into New Zealand by acquiring Burger King operator Antares Restaurant Group. Over the summer, Apax Partners acquired Chinese buffet restaurant chain Golden Jaguar for $250 million, and Archer Capital bought Quick Service Restaurant Holdings for around A$450 million.

In South Korea, perhaps the most famous deal in the industry was the Kohlberg Kravis Roberts-led $1.8 billion buyout of Oriental Brewery, which marked Asia’s largest private equity deal in 2009.

Currently, MSPEA is reportedly in the market for a fourth fund targeting $1.5 billion, the same size as its predecessor which closed in 2007. Morgan Stanley is also raising an RMB-denominated fund with a target of RMB1.5 billion.