CVC Capital Partners is set to buy a controlling stake in South Korea’s No. 2 accommodation booking app operator and in separate talks with minority shareholders to raise its ownership in the start-up firm to about 80%, in a deal worth more than 340 billion won ($285 million).
The British private equity firm has reached a preliminary agreement to acquire 52% of With Innovation Corp., which runs the hotel reservation platform, Good Choice, from its ex-CEO Myeong-seob Sim and affiliated companies, according to investment banking sources on August 1.
It is aiming to close the deal in August, which will be its first Korean acquisition in five years.
The transaction will also mark the first takeover of a South Korean accommodation booking platform by a global investment company.
It follows sovereign wealth fund GIC’s investment in South Korea’s biggest hotel booking app Yanolja in June, participating in a $180 million funding round.
CVC valued the whole company at more than 300 billion won. Based on the valuation, the 52% stake in With Innovation is worth 156 billion won.
The reservation app, launched in 2015, is called Yeogi Eotta in Korean, meaning “How about this place?”
To boost its holding to around 80%, CVC is in negotiations with Seoul-based private equity house JKL Partners which owns a 18% stake, as well as other financial investors composed of Korean venture capital firms.
The VC firms include Korea Investment Partners, Mirae Asset Capital and Mirae Asset Venture Investment.
In addition to the estimated acquisition price of 240 billion won for an 80% stake, CVC plans to spend 100 billion won buying new shares of the Korean start-up company.
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