Korea has one of the highest GDPs per capita in the world and a highly wired, tech-savvy society that sets fashion and beauty trends across Asia.
In the private equity world, it boasts one of the largest pools of institutional investors globally – which are significantly increasing their exposure to alternatives – a stable crop of homegrown managers and is a reliable hunting ground for global firms seeking mega-deals. Korean influence is also felt at the top of private equity’s biggest firms; execs from the country fill top roles at Carlyle, KKR and Blackstone.
Although its private equity industry is relatively young, the asset class in Korea has demonstrated robust growth as measured by total investment and returns. Global and local managers in the last decade have invested more than $100 billion of capital into Korea. Private equity returns have also held steady at around 20 percent per year, according to McKinsey & Company.
Generational shift has been a key investment theme. As founder owners contemplate succession options, private equity has emerged as an attractive option. Industrials, financial services and consumer also drive dealmaking, underscored by the exportability of Korean-made products.