Rohatyn Group winds down Korea office

The firm’s Korea team led by former managing director Gordon Cho has left and set up Elevation Equity Partners.

The Rohatyn Group’s Korea team has spun out, less than three years after the New York-headquartered manager established its Seoul office.

The unit, led by former managing director Gordon Cho, has set up as Elevation Equity Partners and will back mid-market buyouts focused on consumer and services, according to a source familiar with the matter.

It is unclear whether Elevation has plans to raise capital in the near term and whether Cho’s team will be replaced.

Ryan Lee, an assistant vice-president and member of the private equity, credit & infrastructure investment team at Rohatyn, is the only remaining professional based in Seoul, according to the firm’s website.

The AVCJ first reported on the spin-out.

Rohatyn and Elevation declined to comment.

Cho led Rohatyn’s operations in Seoul when it set up in 2016. He said in a statement at the time that “dealflow in the country remains strong, driven by continued chaebol (family-owned conglomerate) restructurings, secondary deals and companies looking for a broader set of financing options”.

Rohatyn has one investment in Korea: fried chicken franchiser BHC Company, which it bought in 2013 for about $100 million. The firm completed three bolt-on acquisitions for BHC and sold the company back to its founder for an undisclosed amount last year. The sale generated a 6x return for the firm, a source close to the deal told Private Equity International.

Rohatyn’s global investment footprint is mainly in emerging markets. In Asia, the firm has been active in India, acquiring JPMorgan’s Asian Infrastructure & Related Resources Opportunity platform – which held about $750 million in assets – in May last year. It also previously owned online retail banking platform Sharekhan. In 2012, Rohatyn acquired a 60 percent stake in Singapore-based mid-market infrastructure firm CapAsia and a year before bought a 50 percent stake in Hong Kong-headquartered private equity real estate firm ARCH Capital Management.

The firm has been unsuccessful in raising an Asia-dedicated fund. It set out to raise a $250 million fund in 2012, according to PEI data, but later cancelled fundraising.

Rohatyn was founded in 2002 and has about $8 billion under management. It invests across private equity, real estate, infrastructure, fixed income and forestry and agriculture.