Unitas gets nine bids for Buy The Way

The majority of the bids from private equity firms and Asian banks were worth more than $260m.

Asia-focused buyout firm Unitas Capital has received nine bids for Korean portfolio company Buy The Way, a source close to the bidding process confirmed.

Most of the nine bids, which were received late last week, were worth more than KRW300 billion ($260 million; €173 million). The bidders included private equity firms as well as Korean and Japanese companies, the source said.

Buy the way: Bids in excess of $260m

Three to four bidders will be selected for the final bidding round, which will be soon, the source added. The firm has appointed Deutsche Bank to lead the sale of the convenience store chain.

Unitas declined to comment.

Unitas Capital acquired Buy The Way for $200 million in a leveraged buyout in July 2006. Currently, the company has 1400 stores across Korea, up from 980 stores at the time of the firm’s investment. It is the firm’s only active investment in the country.

Hong Kong-based Unitas Capital has a record of successful exits in Korea. In 2000, it acquired a 72 percent stake in auto parts maker Mando Corporation alongside Affinity Equity Partners for $446 million. The sale back to the original vendor, Korean construction group Halla Engineering and Construction, in January 2008, valued the company at about US$1.43 billion, netting a 5x return for the two firms. 

In 2001, Unitas bought into confectionary and frozen food manufacturer Haitai Confectionary & Foods alongside CVC Asia Pacific and UBS Capital Asia Pacific for $370 million. In 2005, the firms sold it to rival confectioner Crown Confectionary for $500 million, generating returns of 3x. 

The firm is currently investing out of CCMP Capital Asia Opportunity Fund III, which closed on $1.2 billion in December 2008. Originally the Asian private equity arm of JPMorgan Partners, the firm spun out and renamed itself CCMP Capital Asia in 2005, before re-branding as Unitas Capital in December last year.