Partners Group in first Korea direct deal

Just two months after establishing an office in Seoul, the Swiss firm has made an undisclosed direct equity investment in Saehwa International Machinery.

Zug-based Partners Group has completed an undisclosed size direct equity investment in Korean tire mould and drum manufacturing company Saehwa International Machinery, the firm said in a statement.

The private markets investment manager, which in November last year opened its fifth Asian office in Seoul to focus on direct investments in the country, declined to comment on valuations, although the firm has a typical bite size of between $20 million to $50 million, but may be willing to invest more depending on the characteristics and structure of the deal.

The statement also noted that the firm made the investment alongside Korean private equity firm STIC Investments, which had just last August made clear its plans to expand its overseas private equity investment to 60 percent of its investment totals in the next five years. It allocated about 20 percent of its capital to overseas deals as of August last year.

Saehwa manufacturers tires and is headquartered in Korea with operations in China, Southeast Asia and North America. The fresh capital will fund the company's expansion plans.

In June 2009, the South Korean government agreed to inject $3 billion into sovereign wealth fund Korean Investment Corporation (KIC), of which $1 billion was to be invested in alternatives. KIC planned to invest in LBO, mezzanine, distressed, growth capital, venture capital and real estate funds, according to its 2008 annual report.

The $30 billion SWF subsequently awarded Partners Group a mandate to manage its private equity secondaries investments in July 2009. And in July this year, KIC announced it had appointed Partners Group to manage its real estate investments too. The size of both mandates were undisclosed.